Tottenham Will Play Crystal Palace in 1st Premier League Game at New StadiumMarch 17, 2019
Tottenham Hotspur are finally ready to open the doors of their new stadium after the Premier League club confirmed the date of the first match at the long-awaited venue on Sunday:
The new facility, which has replaced White Hart Lane, was supposed to be ready for operation at the start of this season, but several setbacks have delayed its opening. Those delays have left Spurs to play home games at Wembley Stadium.
A club statement revealed how Brighton & Hove Albion beating Millwall 5-4 on penalties in the last eight of the FA Cup on Sunday helped determine Palace as the first opponents.
Tottenham's home game with Brighton has been rearranged for Tuesday, April 23 or Wednesday, April 24. Before then, Spurs will face Manchester City in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, April 9.
Getting the stadium ready even for as late as April rates as a minor victory for Spurs. The opening date of the 62,062 capacity was becoming an embarrassment for the club.
Football.London's Alasdair Gold reported how chairman Daniel Levy explained to the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust why the stadium hadn't opened back in September during a meeting on Tuesday.
Gold referenced the minutes of the meeting: "Daniel Levy said it couldn't open because we couldn't get a safety certificate due to the issues with the critical safety systems."
Levy also confirmed Spurs aren't in talks with Nike over a deal to sponsor the stadium, according to the London Evening Standard's Tom Dutton.
However, there may still be more problems on the horizon.
Gold also reported how the minutes from Levy's meeting, which included executive director Donna-Maria Cullen, showed indecision about the opening ceremony: "Donna-Maria Cullen said the club is yet to decide which game will be the official opening ceremony. It was felt Palace midweek would present issues with fans rushing from work."
Regardless of any difficulties planning a ceremony, a London derby is a fitting first fixture in Spurs' new home. It's also a game the Lilywhites need to win after experiencing a few setbacks in the league recently, including a 2-1 defeat away to Southampton last time out.
The result put Spurs' hopes of a top-four finish in some doubt. Tottenham are still third, but just a point ahead of north London rivals Arsenal.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping a grand opening at the new stadium can encourage the raucous atmosphere needed to help get Spurs' domestic season back on track.
Tottenham still have to focus on a Champions League campaign after reaching the quarter-finals following a 4-0 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund in the last 16.
Once again, Spurs will be counting on increased capacity in a new home to provide them with the extra support needed to help finally make a splash at the highest level after years of near misses.
Now the stadium is open, Levy's next challenge will be to balance repayments said to be worth as much as £1 billion, per Alex Milne of the Sunday Mirror, with adding to the squad. It was a balancing act Levy struggled with last summer when Spurs didn't add a single player.