Monday 19 November 2018

White Hart Lane opening delayed by safety issues

Tottenham have taken up an option of continuing to play their ‘home’ games at Wembley for the foreseeable future. Photo: PA
Tottenham have taken up an option of continuing to play their ‘home’ games at Wembley for the foreseeable future. Photo: PA

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Tottenham Hotspur have been forced to postpone the opening of the new White Hart Lane by at least another six weeks due to issues with the "critical safety systems" at the new ground.

Spurs were due to open the new stadium on September 15 for the Premier League game against Liverpool. But ongoing safety issues have forced the cancellation of two scheduled test events, which means that the new stadium cannot get its safety licence.

As a result, Tottenham have taken up an option of continuing to play their 'home' games at Wembley for the foreseeable future.

The plan at the start of the season was for Tottenham to play just one 'home' game at Wembley this season - against Fulham this Saturday.

The visit of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool would have been a suitably glamorous opening.

But the new stadium needed to pass two tests events, scheduled for Monday, August 27 and Saturday, September 1, to get the safety licence for the Liverpool game and those two events had to be cancelled.

With both the Liverpool game and the visit of Cardiff City on Saturday, October 6 being relocated to Wembley, the earliest the new stadium can now be opened is when Spurs host Manchester City on the afternoon of Sunday, October 28.

Guarantee

That would be six weeks after the scheduled opening for the Liverpool match and there is no guarantee it will be ready even then.

Tottenham's Champions League games will also be affected, with Spurs now certain to start their group-stage campaign at Wembley at the very least.

The delay also means that the NFL match between Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders on October 14, during football's international break, has also been moved to Wembley.

Meanwhile, Schalke are among the European clubs interested in signing Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan from Chelsea this month.

The Bundesliga club are set to try to land the midfielder, having seen Chelsea sign Mateo Kovacic on loan from Real Madrid, but the prospect of the 22-year-old being allowed to leave is described as "extremely unlikely".

Loftus-Cheek did not start against Huddersfield Town last Saturday but with Tiemoue Bakayoko's loan move to AC Milan creating space in Chelsea's squad, the England international is keen to stay and fight for his place.

With Kovacic not ready to play against Huddersfield and Cesc Fabregas out injured, Maurizio Sarri started Ross Barkley in his midfield three alongside Jorginho and N'Golo Kante.

Loftus-Cheek replaced Barkley with just over 20 minutes remaining. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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