Tottenham Hotspur fans were quick to gloat to their West Ham United and Arsenal rivals when they were given permission to increase the capacity of their new stadium back in March.
Two years after West Ham moved into the 60,000-seater London Stadium, Haringey Council gave Spurs the green light to increase the capacity of their new home to 62,062; more than the Hammers’ new home and the Emirates, as reported by Football London.
But Tottenham’s new ground may only be open for three months before it is trumped in the capacity bragging rights stakes by big-spending rivals West Ham.
The Hammers and their London Legacy Development Corporation landlords will go to the High Court in November to resolve a legal battle allegedly worth more than £100million over the club’s bid to use all of the 66,000 seats at the London Stadium, as reported by the London Evening Standard.
Crowds for games are limited to 57,000 currently and that stems from crowd trouble issues ranging from persistent standing to fighting.
The club has been waiting for approval to move to 60,000 but have always planned to open up the rest of the stadium and use the full 66,000 capacity.
West Ham co-owner David Gold is keen to have the bragging rights over his London rivals and posted a message on Twitter to that effect back in September 2016.
“We won’t get a licence for 66k and have the biggest capacity in London if we stand. If you love West Ham sit down,” Gold said on Twitter.
We won’t get a licence for 66k and have the biggest capacity in London if we stand. If you love West Ham sit down dg https://t.co/4kSq5mp2zh
— David Gold (@davidgold) September 2, 2016
In December Gerry Murphy, then acting chief executive of the LLDC, told a London Assembly budget monitoring sub-committee meeting: “There is a dispute about what the contract says in terms of capacity,” as reported by the Evening Standard.
“We feel that if West Ham want more seats, they should commensurately pay more. It is subject to legal proceedings.”
Asked who would benefit from the money generated by additional seating, Murphy said: “West Ham’s argument is they would receive all of the extra revenue. We would contend we should get a share of that.”
If approved no work would be needed as the seats are already in place and are just covered over for safety and aesthetics.
The 66,000 capacity is somewhat symbolic given the club’s close association with England’s only ever World Cup victory in 1966.
But it would also give thousands of fans on the club’s waiting list the chance to watch their team as West Ham – with 52,000 – currently have the second highest number of season ticket holders in the Premier League behind Manchester United.
For the fans, it also means getting one over on Spurs and sometimes that is more important than anything else.