I was pleasantly surprised by this unexpected highlight at the “fancy new” Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the other night when I saw this being flashed around the shiny new electronic advertising hoardings.

Yes, there it was, emblazoned round the ground “Tottenham Hotspur welcomes all of our supporters clubs”. Going the extra mile by putting each of the individual names up of these supporters clubs too! (see picture 2). What an unexpected treat!

Advertising displays which would, I am guessing, normally cost advertising space “big” money, but being used to welcome – yes – welcome – supporters clubs. Wowsers!

Can you imagine that at ER?

Nope, neither can I!

By the way, I’m hoping it was free, but don’t hold me to that – they might well be paying a lot of money for this display. But given when B*tes took over, he refused point blank to let the LUSC even hold a function at ER, let alone have the name paraded round the ground in lights. To me, this is a mark of respect. A massive nod of acknowledgement to and recognition of the dedicated, longstanding, loyal supporters clubs.

Before anyone can say anything, I know there are differences between the official LUSC branches, what used to be the old B*tes RMCs, and other independent supporters clubs who have been going for decades as well. We are not all the same. We function in our own ways, each to their own. In this particular example, I’m not drawing any distinctions between the LUSC, the branches in the Leeds United Network and all the other groups, we are all Leeds United supporters. For whatever reasons, some just don’t want to join up with the LUSC. Some aren’t bothered with the fortnightly meetings, some think there’s too much admin and formality, some don’t see the value in it, some have far too much water under the bridge and some have set a flame thrower to that bridge. As long as we are all here to support Leeds, that’s what counts. No one should be forced to agree with everything, everyone has the right to choose.

Apologies by the way for the quality of these photos, my phone is so old it thinks UHD is the milk you don’t have to put in the fridge.

The other unexpected highlight, was the pleasure of watching that first half, actually the first 60 minutes of the game. We totally outclassed them, but then, as we do post International break, we ran out of steam. We used to run out of steam when we were crap and never had any participating players in the international competitions. It’s just how it’s always been. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the team need to be playing competitive football continuously, without a break to disrupt our momentum. Maybe the players have a binge week of pizza, curry and chinese watching the competition, like the rest of us. It could be anything, frankly. Having said that the winner was spawny. A lucky bounce off the upright, right into the path of Reguilon. A draw would have been a good result after the first hour display.

So that was the unexpected highlight of the shiny new Tottenham Hotspur ground. The rest? Was it any different from White Hart Lane?

Well, given the new ground is a stone’s throw from White Hart Lane, unlike the mile or so between The Emirates Library and Highbury, it’s still in the same run down area, so no real change there. The main difference is that whilst WHL was your typical 4 codged together stands forming a grey rectangular reflection of football in the Capital, from the outside, this is just a greyer, rounder version of it.

As is with all the grounds situated in London and some other cities in the UK, football stadia were built for the fans who were local to it. The roads and the back streets which were perfectly acceptable in the 1900s, and probably still ok in the 1980s (albeit perfect altercation territory for certain fans!), are far from ideal in the 21st century. Now that the cost of watching live football has risen way beyond what normal people earn in the capital, the fans who live in close proximity to the shiny new Spurs ground don’t stick a chance of getting in. It’s almost a p**stake really. Those of you who were lucky enough to get a ticket last weekend could see for yourselves what the area around there is like. It was probably a little worse than the area around the Emirates Library from what I could see. It must be really galling to live there, and every day see the contrast between the economy of the locals and the money that went into the Shinyness of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But this is corporate sport – not just football. By the way, yes – I know its for American football as well. Does that make it worse or better? I don’t know. Corporate sport is corporate sport.

I have nicked this picture off some tabloid rag showing you the prices of the cheapest season tickets in the league.

Don’t forget, these are the cheapest season tickets you can get according to this rag!

Also, don’t forget how much money these clubs get from TV money and advertising and sponsorship. But you also can’t forget how much these clubs are paying in wages to some of these players. If the players wages weren’t so disgustingly high, the clubs wouldn’t even need to charge that much for a ticket.¬† Income from ticket sales are a drop in the ocean compared to the obscene amounts of money coming in. But those obscene amounts are completely eclipsed by the disgraceful millions going out in wages.

Wages all negotiated by greedy agents and players. Sums of money that the normal fans wouldn’t even dare to dream about. As I have said before, there are players in this league making more money in a year than the sovereign wealth of some nations. Yet they have the audacity to tell us what we should be doing, and some are more than happy to abuse the rules, go to a party, get drunk and crash their ¬£80k 4×4 whilst wearing a furry slipper on one foot and a sandal on the other. Lockdown unexpected highlight? Not quite. Why would you wear socks with a furry sandal? Who knows what the Rich and Famous get up to when they’re not a work.

As usual, I’m digressing. Back to the Shiny new stadium.

It looked good from from where I was sat. The height of the stand behind the goal was almost of St James’s Park proportions – and you know what I think about those stairs at Newcastle! It didn’t look as steep though, more like a considered, staggered gradient, suitable for less mobile fans for a change. The wrap around style is identical to all “new” grounds. No thanks! The entire corporate ring in between the top and the lower tiers? Just like the Emirates Library. The atmosphere? Just like the Emirates Library.

I thought it was just that the acoustics were a bit shoddy to start with. I could hear our end but not theirs. It wasn’t until the second half, when I saw Conte running up and down the touchline waving at the fans to make some noise, that I realised, it wasn’t the acoustics. It was just that they were really quiet! But it looked good on the telly, right?

The last unexpected highlight was that rail seating.

Rail seating / safe standing. It’s not my favourite topic. I’d just prefer safe seating myself. I’m old now.

That rail seating though, now that was an unexpected revelation. The last time I stood at a rail at a game was at the old Ninian Park. I have no idea what year that was – remembering games is The Chairman’s job. There may have been a rail at Salford – but that doesn’t count. It was nice to lean against a rail again though. It was even nicer knowing that there wasn’t going to be a massive crush against said rail if we scored, like in the old days. This was because I was on the back row and no one was behind me. It still didn’t stop people just standing in the aisles and on the stairwells¬† though. No surprise there then.

The actual folding seats were huge though. Much wider than I thought they would be. Probably bigger than my seat in the Captain’s Corner and twice as big as the seats in the East Stand, very roomy indeed. The rail was a bit lower than I imagined it would be, and still as painful when I landed against the upright bit when we scored. Despite my initial misgivings and apprehension, it seemed ok.

If this is going to be the way forward however, rail seating will not increase the capacity at ER. It’ll probably reduce it, as these seats are enormous. Like the seats are Arsenal, they are definitely designed for those with a larger “spread”, and I don’t mean Lurpak. More comfort for those who want a seat through the game, but it will be capacity that is sacrificed in the long run. If these get installed in the East Stand, even I might get a ticket in there for a Cup game. It’s a long way off though.