If you are an American Football fan like I am, or even a follower of decent American TV serialisations then you may be familiar with Friday Night Lights, a series set in Dallas, Texas around High School football. Why have I even started a Spurs blog with this? Well because there have been many rumblings lately as to whether the new Spurs stadium will incorporate or accommodate American football at some point and with recent requests by the club for changes to stadium planning permissions there are some people that are touting this to be the case.

Now, Friday Night Lights centred on High School football as I said, and in the US the delineation is quite clear. Friday’s are for High School football; Saturday’s for College football (and bear in mind some colleges like Ohio State, Texas A&M and Michigan, draw attendances in excess of 100,000 people so this is serious stuff); and the professional game is played on Sunday’s outside of televised Monday and Thursday night games. In Europe we have the same delineation with UEFA games. Champions League on a Tuesday or Wednesday; Europa League on a Thursday.

And this brings me nicely to Spurs and hopefully you can appreciate the neat Segway to European football! The level of European football played by a club is determined firstly by how a team performed the season before but is identified in the current season by what night the floodlights are turned on. For us it’s a Thursday. Of course our objective is to ensure that we are playing European football on a Tuesday or Wednesday and whilst we could sit and argue how we achieve this and the rights and wrongs of the playing strategy, squad composition or whether ENIC is the devil from hell, the fact remains that the biggest competitive driver is money.

It is to this end that a stadium with an increased capacity is critical to the long term planning on so many levels for the club. The cynics will say that once built ENIC will sell and if so who really cares even if it does pan out that way? The stadium will be here to stay regardless of ownership. A stadium’s match day revenue alone (away from TV money) is a critical determining factor in financial competitiveness for clubs. Spurs are currently 6th in annual match day revenue (£44m). City generate £47m; Liverpool £51m; Chelsea £71m; Arsenal £100m and Man Utd £108m. – (2014/15 figures according to Daily Mail).

Arsenal have to be the direct comparison for Spurs here and for two reasons. 1) They are in London where corporate demand and prices generally tend to be higher and 2) Spurs are proposing to build a similar sized ground. £60m match day revenue is a big gap to bridge every year: and then factor in the gap size without regular Champions League money in addition, which has been far superior to Europa League prize money by a ratio of 4:1.

It would be remiss of Spurs therefore in planning for building their stadium to not also consider maximising revenue from it, and if that means equipping it to hold NFL games then why not? There is talk of an NFL London franchise at some point although possibly unlikely in the next 5 years as moving a team to LA appears to be the next issue for the NFL. Fans are naively worrying about the state of the pitch or whether the lines and logos would interfere with what we as Spurs fans are watching, but we will have to have faith in the architects of the design and trust that they will incorporate some form of retractable second surface which is not uncommon nowadays in other stadia.

If you are worried about football selling its soul don’t be. Its soul was sold in 1992 when the Premier League was formed and an elongated middle finger was shown to the rest of the Football League and football generally in this country. If the key competitive driver is indeed money as I have stated, then revenue optimization has to be a sensible strategy in today’s game particularly in the absence of an oligarch owner and some lightweight Financial Fair Play rules.

The impact of increased revenues probably won’t start filtering through to the team immediately however, and It would be foolish to think it would. Arsenal have only recently started splurging £40m on individual players and their stadium was completed 9 years ago this month. That said, anything that can help make the club competitive should be welcome and if using the new as yet unnamed stadium to host different sports and events will help Spurs do this then this should be welcomed.

The High School team in Friday Night Lights had a motto that someone shared on twitter the other day – “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”….. except I suppose we are Spurs and we do occasionally lose. But for me the stadium will certainly be a win for the club. Embrace it.

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