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 By Dan Fitch

Tottenham out of touch with their fans

People who work at football clubs -- whether it's as a chairman, manager, or a player -- are generally hopelessly out of touch with the opinions of the fans who line their pockets.

Never is this more true than at Tottenham Hotspur. The club's owners have been discussing whether Spurs should play their home matches at the home of the MK Dons in Milton Keynes while their new stadium is being built. These formal talks would suggest that they're pretty set on the idea, despite the fact that the proposed move is incredibly unpopular with the club's supporters.

Having been promised that the team would continue to play at White Hart Lane even while the new stadium was under construction, the delays have seen the management seemingly do a U-turn and decide that it would be quicker and cheaper to simply move to another club's stadium during the building period.

Fans might accept this if the idea was to share with a London club. Spurs fans based in the capital and those outside it could get to any ground within the city limits without too much fuss. Yet this would be too easy. In a move that risks further alienating their supporters, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and his cohorts have seemingly set their hearts on moving Tottenham some 51 miles away from London.

They do so safe in the knowledge that they will fill the stadium regardless. There are Spurs fans all over the south of England and I'm sure those in the Milton Keynes area would relish the prospect of having the club on their doorstep.

Yet a poll by the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust concluded that 66 percent of fans who currently attend games would stop going to matches should the switch be made. It's not difficult to see why.

Take yours truly as an example. I moved out of London this year and now live on England's wintry south coast. It takes me nearly two hours to get from home to ground and costs around 40 pounds in train fares. The trip to Milton Keynes would take an extra hour and cost me an extra 20 pounds.

Going to football is an expensive and time-consuming pastime for fans. A move would force Spurs' loyal fans to reach deeper into their pockets and potentially spend more time away from their families. Yet a groundshare suggests that the club doesn't care; it gives me the impression is that fans are merely numbers on a balance sheet as long as the seats are filled by someone.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has drawn the ire of some Spurs fans with the team's possible temporary move.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has drawn the ire of some Spurs fans with the team's possible temporary move.

Throw in the fact that many football supporters would rather set fire to their own money than give a penny to the MK Dons -- a franchise club borne of opportunism when a city with no history, football or otherwise, a swooped to take advantage of Wimbledon's financial problems, prompting furore among many English football fans -- and you have an idea of how contentious this decision would be.

The players, meanwhile, are no less frustrating. Emmanuel Adebayor complained about the fans booing after Spurs' loss to Stoke, revealing an apparent lack of self-awareness. The supporters might have taken such a grumble from a Hugo Lloris or Harry Kane -- who can be relied upon to give their all -- but they certainly weren't going to take a pot-shot from a player who shares a work ethic with Homer Simpson.

Booing does not help the team but is the absolute right of any fan in the stadium. While everyone else at White Hart Lane on a match-day is only there because they are being paid, supporters have actually spent money for the privilege. These are working people who have chosen to spend several hours of their precious personal time, at great financial expense, to watch a football match.

When dross is served up -- I think four home defeats counts as such -- you can't expect them to just shrug and walk away happy. They're angry -- most often at themselves for wasting so much time and money on a hopeless lost cause. Booing is a release of such tension and if the team have such a problem with it, perhaps they should consider winning the odd game or perhaps leave.

Football fans, unlike chairmen and players, cannot walk away. They are bound to their club by an inexplicable and unescapable bond. This is what owners of these clubs seek to exploit and what most players will never understand.

The fans will remain with the club through the bad times, but you can't also expect them to dance to a seemingly corporate tune and always play nicely.

Dan Fitch is the founder of TottenhamBlog and writes about Spurs for ESPN FC and football for Bleacher Report. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DJFitch.


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