Formation

The Hotspur Football Club was formed in 1882 by a group of school boys, mostly aged 13 to 14, from Tottenham Grammar School and Saint John’s Middle Class School who were members of the Hotspur Cricket Club formed two years earlier. The idea for the club was conceived by Robert Buckle with his two friends Sam Casey and John Anderson so they may continue to play sport during the winter months. It is said that the boys gathered one night under a lamppost along Tottenham High Road (around 100 yards from the now demolished White Hart Lane ground below the junction with Park Lane), and agreed to form a football club. It is not known when this meeting took place, the date of formation of the Hotspur Football Club is therefore taken to be 5 September 1882, the date the eleven boys had to start paying their first ever annual subscriptions of sixpence. They had 18 members by the end of the year. Although the name “Northumberland Rovers” was mooted, they settled on “Hotspur” as the name for the club. As with the Cricket Club, it was chosen in honour of Sir Henry Percy (better known as “Harry Hotspur”, the rebel of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part 1), whose Northumberland family owned land in North London including Northumberland Park.

In the beginning, the boys would hold meetings under lampposts in Northumberland Park or in half-built houses on Willoughby Lane. In August 1883, the boys sought help with the club from John Ripsher, the warden of Tottenham YMCA and the Bible class teacher at All Hallows Church, who readily agreed and became the first president of the club and its treasurer. A few days later he presided over a meeting at the basement kitchen of the YMCA near Percy House on High Road, which would become their first headquarters, attended by 21 members. Ripsher, who stayed as president until 1894, would became an important early figure who helped and supported the boys, reorganised as well as establishing the ethos of the club. He also found new premises for the club after the boys were evicted from Percy House in 1884 for misdemeanours, first at 1 Dorset Villa on Northumberland Road where they stayed for two years, then to the Red House on High Road after they were again asked to leave, this time for playing cards in church. The Red House, which stood beside the entrance gate to White Hart Lane but demolished in 2016 in its redevelopment, would be their headquarters for six years before they moved to 808 High Road in 1891 and later to White Hart Lane. In April 1884, due to mail for another established club London Hotspur being misdirected to North London, the club was renamed Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to avoid any further confusion.

 

Early years

The boys played their early matches on public ground at the Park Lane end of Tottenham Marshes, where they needed to mark out and prepare their own pitch and on occasions had to defend against other teams who might try to take over their pitch. Local pubs were used as dressing rooms. In the first two years, the boys largely played games between themselves, the number of friendly fixtures against other clubs however would gradually increase. The first match recorded by the new club was on 30 September 1882 against a local team named the Radicals, a game Hotspur lost 2–0. The first game reported by the local press was on 6 October 1883 against Brownlow Rovers, which Spurs won 9–0. They played their first competitive match on 17 October 1885 against a company works team called St Albans in the London Association Cup. It was attended by 400 spectators, and Spurs won 5–2. In the early days, Spurs was essentially a schoolboy team sometimes playing against adults, but older players would later join, and the club strengthened as it absorbed players from other local clubs. Some of the early members stayed with the club for many years as players, committee members or directors, including Buckle, Sam Casey, John Thompson and Jack Jull.

The matches of the club began to attract the interest of the local community and the number of spectators grew to a few thousands within a few years. However, as their matches were played on public land, no admission fees could be charged for spectators, therefore the matches generated no gate receipts. In 1888, Tottenham moved their home fixtures from the Tottenham Marshes to Northumberland Park, where the club rented an enclosed ground and was able to charge for spectator admission. The first match on the ground was on 13 October 1888, a reserve match that yielded gate receipts of 17 shillings. Spectators were usually charged 3d a game, but may be raised to 6d for cup ties. By the early 1890s, a cup tie may have a few thousand paying spectators. In the early days there were no stand apart from a couple of wagons and wooden trestles for spectators to stand on, but for the 1894–95 season, the first stand with just over 100 seats and changing room underneath was built on the ground. An attempt to join an aborted Southern League failed in 1892 when they received only one vote. The club however would play the 1892–93 season for first time in a league, which is the short-lived Southern Alliance.

In the beginning, the Spurs team played in navy-blue shirts with a letter H on a scarlet shield with on the left breast. The club colours were changed in 1885 to light blue and white halved jerseys and white shorts, which was inspired by watching Blackburn Rovers win the FA Cup at the Kennington Oval in 1884, before returning to the original dark blue shirts for the 1889–90 season. From 1890 to 1895, the club had red shirts and blue shorts, this was changed for 1895 to 1898 to chocolate brown and gold narrow striped shirts and dark blue shorts. Finally, in the 1899–1900 season, the strip was changed to the familiar white shirts and navy blue shorts as a tribute to Preston North End, the most successful team of the time.

Professional status

In October 1893, the club became unwittingly involved in a controversy known as the ‘Payne Boots Affair’. A reserve player from Fulham, Ernie Payne, agreed to play for Spurs, but arrived without any kit as it had apparently been stolen at Fulham. As no suitable boots could be found, the club gave him 10 shillings to buy his boots. On this the London Football Association found the club guilty of professionalism with financial inducement to attract a player to the club after Fulham complained of poaching of their player. Spurs was suspended for a fortnight, and was kicked out of the FA Amateur Cup as the team had to forfeit their second round match against Clapham Rovers. However, press coverage over the incidence raised the national profile of what was then a local amateur club, gaining sympathy for what many thought was unfair treatment. Invitations to play games from other clubs increased and attendance at its matches rose. The publicity also brought on board two individuals who would later run the club, Charles Roberts and a local businessman John Oliver who helped fund the club.

With an increasing number of teams to play against, the quality of Spurs’ opposition also improved. In order to compete against better teams, in 1895, the club committee led by the second president of the club John Oliver agreed that the amateur club should become professional. Robert Buckle made the proposal at a meeting on 16 December 1895, which was accepted after a vote, and the club turned professional on 20 December 1895. An attempt to join the Football League failed, but they were admitted to the Division One of Southern League in the summer of 1896. The team was almost entirely rebuilt over the next two years; the first few professional players were quickly recruited, and in 1897 they also signed their first international, Jack Jones.

On 2 March 1898, in order to raise funds for the club and limit the personal liability of its members, the club decided to become a limited company, the Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic Company. 8,000 shares were issued at £1 each, however, it was not a great success as only 1,558 shares were taken up by the public in the first year. A board of directors was formed with Oliver the chairman, but Oliver retired after the company showed a loss of £501 at the end of the season in 1899. Charles Roberts became its chairman and remained in the post until 1943.

Soon after the club became a limited company, on 14 March 1898, Frank Brettell took up post as the first ever manager of Spurs. Bretell signed a number of players from northern clubs, such as Harry Erentz, Tom Smith, Harry Bradshaw, James McNaught, and in particular John Cameron signed from Everton in May 1898. Brettell left for Portsmouth in February the following year, and Cameron then took over as player-manager. Cameron would have a considerable impact on Spurs, winning the club its first trophy and in particular the FA Cup in 1901. He signed players such as George Clawley, Ted Hughes, David Copeland, Tom Morris, Jack Kirwan and Sandy Tait in his first year as manager and Sandy Brown in the next to replace Tom Pratt, players who would become part of the cup-winning team.

Move to White Hart Lane

First game at White Hart Lane, Spurs vs Notts County for the official opening on 4 September 1899

On Good Friday in 1898, a match was held against Woolwich Arsenal at Northumberland Park. It was attended by a record crowd of 14,000, and the refreshment stand collapsed when fans climbed up onto its roof in the overcrowded ground, prompting the club to start looking for a new ground. In 1899, the club moved a short distance to a piece of land behind the White Hart pub. The White Hart Lane site, actually located behind Tottenham High Road, was a nursery owned by the brewery chain Charringtons. The club initially leased the ground from Charringtons, later in 1905, after issuing shares towards the cost of purchase, it bought the freehold for £8,900 and a further £2,600 for a piece of land at the northern end so that the club may develop the ground. The ground by now had a covered stand on the west side and earth mounds on the other three.

In time, the ground became known as White Hart Lane, a local thoroughfare. The first game at the White Hart Lane was a friendly against Notts County on 4 September 1899 that Spurs won 4–1, and the first competitive game on the ground was held five days later against Queens Park Rangers, a game won by Spurs 1–0.

In 1900, Tottenham won the Southern League title, the first ever trophy won by the club. After the win, the club was dubbed “Flower of the South” by the press.

1901 FA Cup

Sandy Brown (unseen) scoring the third goal for Tottenham Hotspur in the 1901 FA Cup Final replay against Sheffield United

It the 1901 FA Cup, Spurs reached the final after beating Preston North End, Bury, Reading and West Bromwich Albion. The final was played at Crystal Palace against Sheffield United, and was attended by 110,820 spectators, then the largest crowd ever for a football match. The game ended in a 2–2 draw, with both Spurs goals from Sandy Brown, and a disputed goal from Sheffield – the final was the first to be filmed and it would be the first referee decision demonstrated to be wrong by film footage as it showed that the ball did not cross the line for the Sheffield goal. In the replay at Burnden Park, Bolton on 27 April 1901, Spurs won 3–1 with goals from Cameron, Tom Smith and another by Brown. By winning the FA Cup, Spurs became the only non-League club to have achieved the feat since the formation of The Football League in 1888.

The win also started a trend for success for Spurs in years ending in a one, with further FA Cup wins in 1921, 1961, 1981 and 1991, the League Cup in 1971, the league in 1951, and in 1961, which is the double winning year. The club also inadvertently started the tradition of tying ribbons in the colours of the winning team on the FA cup when the wife of a Spurs director tied blue and white ribbons to the handles of the cup.

Following the 1901 cup win, Spurs failed to repeat the success in the next few seasons but were runners-up in the Southern League twice. In May 1905, they started their first tour to a foreign country. Cameron left on 13 March 1907, and was replaced by Fred Kirkham in April 1907. Kirkham however was not a success and was disliked by players and fans alike, and he left as manager a year later on 20 July 1908.

Early decades in the Football League (1908–1949)

 

Election to the Football League

Spurs cockerel in a 1910 official programme

In 1908, Tottenham attempted to join the Football League but failed initially. Stoke then resigned from the league for financial reason, and Tottenham won election to the Second Division of the Football League for the 1908–09 season in their place. For a number of years in the league Spurs were without a manager as Kirkham had left, and the directors would choose the team, with the club secretary Arthur Turner looking after the team affairs. They played their first game in the league in September 1908 against Wolverhampton Wanderers and won 3–0, with their first ever goal in the Football League scored by Vivian Woodward. Woodward would also be instrumental in the club’s immediate promotion to the First Division when they finishing runners-up in their first year in the league. Woodward however left before the start of the next season, later joining Chelsea. Spurs struggled in their first year in the First Division, but avoided relegation when they beat Chelsea in the last game of the season with goals from Billy Minter and a former Chelsea player Percy Humphreys, sending Chelsea down instead.

 

After the club was elected to the Football League, the club started an ambitious plan to redevelop White Hart Lane, beginning in 1909 with the construction of the West Stand designed by Archibald Leitch. The North and South stands were built in the early 1920s, and the East Stand completed in 1934, with the finished stadium boasting a capacity of nearly 80,000. A bronze cockerel was placed atop the West Stand at the end of 1909–10 season. The cockerel was adopted as an emblem as Harry Hotspur, after whom the club was named, was said to be fond of cock-fighting. Tottenham had initially used spurs as a symbol in 1900 as Harry Hotspur was said to have gained the nickname as he charged in battles by digging in his spurs to make the horse go faster, and this symbol evolved into a fighting cock.

In late 1912, Peter McWilliam was appointed manager and he would be manager for Spurs in two separate periods, both interrupted by world wars. A number of players were signed in 1912 before McWilliam arrived, such as Arthur Grimsdell, Jimmy Cantrell and Bert Bliss. The first significant signing by McWilliam was Fanny Walden. McWilliam would become a significant and popular manager for the club, but his record in the early years was poor, and Tottenham were bottom of the league at the end of the 1914–15 season when League football was suspended due to the First World War that started a year earlier. During the war years, White Hart Lane was taken over by the government and turned into a factory for making gas masks, gunnery and protection equipment. The London clubs organised their own matches, and Tottenham would play their home matches at Arsenal’s Highbury and Clapton Orient’s Homerton grounds.

When football resumed in 1919, the First Division was expanded from 20 to 22 teams. The Football League extended one of the additional places to 19th-place Chelsea (who would have been relegated with Spurs for the 1915–16 season) and the other to Arsenal instead of Spurs. This promotion—Arsenal had finished only sixth in Division 2 the previous season—was controversial, and cemented a bitter rivalry that continues to this day. (The rivalry begun six years earlier, when Arsenal’s relocated from Plumstead to Highbury, a move opposed by Tottenham, Clapton Orient as well as Chelsea.)

Highs and lows of the interwar years

Tottenham Hotspur captain Arthur Grimsdell displays the cup to fans on Tottenham High Roadafter Spurs’ victory in the 1921 final, the first win by a London-based team in 20 years.

In the first season after the war, McWilliam took Tottenham straight back to Division One when they became Division Two Champions of the 1919–20 season. Two players signed this season, Jimmy Dimmock and Jimmy Seed, would become crucial members of the team together with Grimsdell. Other notable players of the period include Tommy Clay, Bert Smith and Charlie Walters. In the following year in the FA Cup, Spurs reached their second FA Cup Final after beating Preston North End in the semi-final. On 23 April 1921, Spurs beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1–0 in the Cup Final at Stamford Bridge, with 20 year-old Jimmy Dimmock scoring the winning goal. They also won their first Charity Shield. Spurs players started to wear the cockerel emblem on their shirts in 1921 after they won the FA Cup.

During McWilliam’s tenure at Spurs, a nursery club was also established at Northfleet, an arrangement that lasted from the early 1920s until the Second World War. Many Spurs players before and after the war started their playing career at Northfleet, including Bill Nicholson, Ron Burgess, Vic Buckingham and Ted Ditchburn.

In their second season in Division One, Spurs finishing second to Liverpool in the League in 1922, their first serious challenge for the league title. However, after the success of the two post-war seasons, Spurs finished mid-table in the next five. The team had begun to deteriorate and new signings such as Jack Elkes and Frank Osborne could not overcome weakness in other positions. They were top of the table for a while in 1925, but Grimsdell then broke his leg and they dropped down the table. McWilliam left for Middlesbrough in February 1927 and Billy Minter, who first joined the club in 1907 as a player, took over as manager. Minter’s first full season in charge however saw Spurs relegated at the end of the 1927–28 season. One reason for the relegation may be the sale of Jimmy Seed (whose place in the team was taken by a younger Taffy O’Callaghan) to Sheffield Wednesday that looked certain to be relegated at the bottom of Division One. Seed not only helped Wednesday escape relegation, in the process beating Tottenham twice and also landing Tottenham in relegation trouble. Furthermore, he led Wednesday to the League Championship title the next two years.

Percy Smith took over as manager in 1930, and returned Spurs to the top flight in 1933, with players such as George Hunt, Taffy O’Callaghan, Willie Hall, and Arthur Rowe. However, the club only managed to stay in Division One for two seasons; injuries (especially to Rowe and Hall) left the team weakened and at the bottom of the table in the 1934–35 season by April 1935. Smith then resigned, claiming that the club’s directors had interfered with his team selection. The next manager Jack Tresadern took over from caretaker manager Wally Hardinge after Smith left. Tresadern however failed to lift the club out of Second Division with players such as Johnny Morrison, and his decision to sell fan’s favourite George Hunt to rival Arsenal as well as Taffy O’Callaghan also made him unpopular, and he left in April 1938. Peter McWilliam returned to Spurs, and tried to rebuild the team by promoting young players from Northfleet such as Bill Nicholson, Ron Burgess and Ted Ditchburn, but his second stint at the club was again interrupted by world war. Spurs also failed to advance beyond the quarter finals of the FA Cup in the 30s, getting that far three years running from 1935 to 1938. Despite Tottenham’s lack of success in this period, 75,038 spectators still squeezed into White Hart Lane in March 1938 in a cup tie against Sunderland, the club’s highest ever gate until it was surpassed in 2016 when over 85,000 attended the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League home match against Monaco held at Wembley Stadium.

War and post-war lull

On 3 September 1939, Neville Chamberlain declared war, and League football was abandoned with only 3 games played. Matches however continued to be arranged and played during the Second World War. The London clubs first played in the Wartime League and Football League War Cup, and Spurs won the Regional League South ‘C’ in 1940. After a reorganisation in 1941, they also competed in the Football League South. However, due to the difficult wartime conditions, Spurs along with other London clubs refused to travel long distance for the matches drawn up by the Football League, and decided to run their own competitions: London War League and London War Cup. They (11 London clubs and 5 other clubs from the south) were temporarily expelled from the Football League, but after paying a fine they were readmitted but would play in the Football League South in the way the London clubs had suggested. Spurs won the regional league twice, with Arthur Turner managing the team as McWilliam had gone back to the North during the war. Spurs shared White Hart Lane with rival Arsenal when Highbury was requisitioned by the government and used as an Air Raid Precautions centre.

Following the war, football was very popular attracting many thousands of supporters each weekend. Although in the three post-war seasons Spurs languished in the Second Division, they had attendances of 50,000. Spurs also managed to reach the semifinal of the FA Cup in 1948 under manager Joe Hulme.

Arthur Rowe and title win (1949–1958)

League title

In May 1949, Arthur Rowe became Spurs manager for £1,500 a year. His started his tenure as a Spurs manager in the 1949–50 season with a 4–1 victory at Brentford, the start of an unbeaten run of 23 League and Cup games between 27 August 1949 to 14 January. The team won the Second Division convincingly by 9 points, elevating them back into the top flight.

After a shaky start to their 1950–51 season when they were trounced 4–1 at home by the Blackpool side of Stanley Matthews, Tottenham got into their stride and hit a purple patch of 8 consecutive wins in October and November. They finished the season ahead of Manchester United by three points, having won their First Division Championship title in the penultimate game of the season by beating Sheffield Wednesday. This would be Tottenham’s first ever League title. The players in the side included the captain Ron Burgess, Alf Ramsey, Eddie Baily, Les Bennett, Les Medley, Arthur Willis, Ted Ditchburn, Len Duquemin, Sonny Walters and Bill Nicholson.

The Spurs Way

The tactical style of play developed by Rowe that would proved successful in his early years as manager is known as “push and run”. Rowe credited McWilliam for learning to play a quick passing style of game.[49] Rowe further developed this into a style involving players playing in triangles, quickly laying the ball off to a teammate and running past the marking tackler to collect the return pass. It proved an effective way to move the ball at pace with players’ positions and responsibility being totally fluid. It became an attractive fast-moving attacking style of play would become known to Tottenham’s fans as the Spurs Way, a style of play that would be perfected in later period under Bill Nicholson.

The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.

Danny Blanchflower, 1972

They finished second in the 1951–52 season as a young Manchester United team beat them to the title. A bad winter, and the terrible state of the White Hart Lane pitch, contributed to this as the “push and run” style of play requires a good firm surface to play effectively. The following years were in a period of decline, as great players aged but younger players such as Tony Marchi and Tommy Harmer were not yet experienced enough, and with injuries and other teams adapting to Spurs’ revolutionary style of play, it meant a struggle for the once-dominant team. In 1952–53, Spurs finished tenth. The “Push and Run” team which was also breaking up, with players such as Medley, Willis and Burgess left to join other teams while Nicholson moved into coaching. However, the year 1954 was notable for the signing of one of Spurs’ most celebrated players, Danny Blanchflower, for a record £30,000. Blanchflower would win the FWA Footballer of the Year twice while at Tottenham.

Post-Rowe

By this stage, Arthur Rowe had begun to suffer from ill health due to stress from managing the team; he suffered a breakdown in 1954 and resigned after falling ill again in April 1955. The season ended with Spurs in the lower half of the table. Long-time club servant Jimmy Anderson took over, but Spurs were nearly relegated at the end of the 1955–56 season, finishing two points above the drop zone. The next season saw the club experiencing a revival, finishing in second place albeit eight points behind the winners, the “Busby Babes” of Manchester United. Tottenham fared well in the following season, finishing third. In his tenure as manager, Anderson started to build a new team by signing, bringing in or promote some of the players who would be part of the team that saw major success later, such as Cliff Jones, Terry Medwin, Peter Baker, Ron Henry, Terry Dyson, Maurice Norman and Bobby Smith.

Bill Nicholson and the Glory Years (1958–1974)

 

In October 1958, Anderson left and was replaced by Bill Nicholson. Bill Nicholson had joined Tottenham as an apprentice in 1936, and the following 68 years saw him serve the club in every capacity from boot room to president. He would become the most successful Spurs manager, guiding Tottenham to major trophy success three seasons in a row in the early 1960s: the double in 1961, the FA Cup and European Cup semi-final in 1962 and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963.

In his first game as manager on 11 October 1958, Spurs beat Everton 10–4, their then record win. They also beat Crewe Alexandra 13–2 in the 1959–60 FA Cup, the highest scoring FA cup tie of the 20th Century. However, the team finished 18th in the league in his first season in charge, an indifferent start to Tottenham Hotspur’s most successful manager’s tenure. In the following 1958–59 season, Spurs improved to third place in the league, two points behind the champion Burnley. Nicholson made two important signings in 1959 – Dave Mackay and John White, who became influential players of the team, as well as Bill Brown and Les Allen to complete Double-winning team.

The Double

The 1960–61 season started with a 2–1 home win against Everton, the beginning of a run of 11 wins. The winning run was interrupted by a 2–2 draw against Manchester City, followed by another four wins before the unbeaten streak was broken by a loss at Hillsborough in November. It was the best ever start by any club in the top flight of English football, until it was surpassed by Manchester City in 2017. The title was won on 17 April 1961 when they beat the eventual runner-up Sheffield Wednesday at home 2–1, with three more games still to play.

Spurs reached the final of the 1960–61 FA Cup, beating along the way Sunderland 5–0 in the sixth round replay and Burnley 3–0 in the semi-final. Spurs met Leicester City in the 1961 FA Cup Final and won 2–0, helped in part by Leicester being effectively reduced to 10 men due to injury (no substitution was allowed at that time). Spurs became the first team in the win the Double in the 20th century, and the first since Aston Villaachieved the feat in 1897.

First European triumph

Tottenham competed for the first time in a European competition in the 1961–62 European Cup. Their first opponents were Górnik Zabrze who beat Spurs 4–2. After the match, the Polish press described Spurs players as “no angels”, in response, in the return leg at White Hart Lane, some Spurs fans dressed up as angels holding placards with slogans such as ‘Glory be to shining White Hart Lane’. Spurs won 8–1, and the fans started to sing the refrains of “Glory Glory Hallelujah”, which became an anthem for Tottenham from that night onwards. However they lost in the semi-final to the holder Benfica who went on to win the competition.A month later Spurs won their consecutive FA Cup after beating Burnley in the 1962 FA Cup Final. The first goal in the Cup Final was scored by Jimmy Greaves, who was signed in December 1961 for £99,999 (so as not to be the first £100,000 player). Greaves would become the top goal scorer for Tottenham with 220 league goals, as well as the most prolific scorer ever in the top tier of English football.

In the 1962–63 European Cup Winners’ Cup, Spurs reached the final, beating along the way Rangers 8–4 on aggregate, Slovan Bratislava 6–2, and OFK Belgrade 5–2 aggregate. On 15 May 1963, in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final against Atlético Madrid in Rotterdam, Spurs won 5–1, including a 25-yard goal from Terry Dyson. With this win, Tottenham became the first British team to win a European trophy.

Continuing success

By 1964, the “Double” side began to disintegrate due to age, injuries and transfers. Captain Danny Blanchflower hung up his boots that spring at the age of 38, troubled by a knee injury, while Dave Mackay was sidelined for a long period with his leg broken twice – the first occurred during Spurs’ defence of the Cup Winners’ Cup against Manchester United, resulting in the 10-men Spurs being eliminated from the competition. The most tragic blow of them all, however, was the death of forward John White, who was killed by lightning on a golf course the summer of 1964. Nicholson rebuilt a second team with new players, most of them imports, such as Alan Gilzean, Pat Jennings, Mike England, Alan Mullery, Terry Venables, Jimmy Robertson, Phil Beal, Joe Kinnear and Cyril Knowles. It culminated in a win at the 1967 FA Cup Final over Chelsea and a third-place finish in the league.

In the late 60s and early 70s, another group of players arrived to further revitalise the team – Martin Chivers, Steve Perryman, Martin Peters and Ralph Coates. Steve Perryman would become Spurs’ longest serving player. Nicholson and his team added two League Cup wins (in 1971 and 1973), and another European trophy, the 1971–72 UEFA Cup to Tottenham’s tally of successes. Spurs became the first British team to win two different European trophies with the UEFA Cup win. In total Nicholson had won eight major trophies in 16 years and his spell in charge was the most successful period in the club’s history.

Decline and revival under Keith Burkinshaw (1974–1984)

Nicholson decided to resign after a poor start to the 1974–75 season and losing 4–0 to Middlesbrough in the League Cup. Nicholson was worn down and disillusioned; the early seventies was also the beginning of a period of increasing football violence, and rioting by Spurs fans in Rotterdam in the 1974 UEFA Cup Final, which Spurs lost, added to his disillusionment. His tenure ended in acrimony as Nicholson wanted for his replacement Danny Blanchflower as manager and Johnny Giles as player-coach, but the chairman Sidney Wale was angered by Nicholson contacting the pair without informing him first. The club then severed all ties with a £10,000 payoff even though Nicholson had wanted to stay on as an advisor, and refused Nicholson a testimonial (Nicholson was later brought back as advisor by Keith Burkinshaw and was only given a testimonial in 1983 under a different chairman).

Ex-Arsenal player Terry Neill was appointed manager by the board, and Spurs narrowly avoided relegation at the end of 1974–75. The following season Spurs performed better, and this season Glenn Hoddle would played his first game for Spurs, although he did not play a full season until the following year. Neill however was never accepted by the fans, and he left to manage Arsenal in the summer of 1976 to be replaced by his assistant Keith Burkinshaw he took on the previous year.

Relegation

In Burkinshaw’s first year as manager in the 1976–77 season, Tottenham slipped out of the First Division, after 27 years in the top flight. Many of the early 70s cup-winning team had by now left, retired, or turned to management. This was followed in the summer of 1977 by the sale of their Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Pat Jennings for a bargain £45,000 to arch rivals Arsenal as Burkinshaw had started to use Barry Daines, a move that shocked the club’s fans and one that Burkinshaw would later admit was a great error. Jennings played on for another eight years for Spurs’ rivals.

Despite relegation, the board kept faith with Burkinshaw and the team immediately won promotion to the top flight, although it took until the final league game to be promoted. A sudden loss of form at the end of the 1977–78 season meant the club needed a point in the last game at Southampton. To Tottenham’s great relief, the game ended 0–0 and Spurs returned to the first division. A memorable game early in the season came at home to Bristol Rovers, when Spurs won 9–0, with four of their goals coming from debutant striker Colin Lee. The glut of goals would prove significant later on as Tottenham won promotion through goal difference.

Cup wins and European success

 

In the summer of 1978, Burkinshaw caused a notable stir by signing for £750,000 two Argentinian World Cup winning stars Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, which was the kind of transfer coup very uncommon in British football, particularly at a time when foreign players in British football were rare. This was also a period of rebuilding as a number of young players were brought in from the youth rank, such as Mark Falco, Paul Miller, Chris Hughton and Micky Hazard, as well as other players signed from other clubs such as Graham Roberts, Tony Galvin, Garth Crooks and Steve Archibald (Gary Mabbutt was signed a little later in 1982).

Spurs opened the 1980s on a high in the FA Cup replay against Manchester City in the 1981 Final, which is the 100th FA Cup Final, which Spurs won 3–2 and is notable for the winning goal from Ricardo Villa. They lifted the FA Cup again against Queens Park Rangers the next season, and were in contention for four trophies, including the First Division title in which they threatened Liverpool at Easter but ended up fourth. Liverpool also denied Spurs the League Cup in extra time and Barcelona won at home in the Cup Winners’ Cup semis after a 1–1 draw at White Hart Lane.

The club began a new phase of redevelopment of White Hart Lane. The West Stand was demolished in 1980 and the new stand opened in 1981. The project took 15 months to complete; cost overruns of the project together with the cost of rebuilding the team of the previous years resulted in financial difficulties for the club, leading to a change of directors0. Irving Scholar, then bought up 25% of the club for £600,000, and together with the help of Pual Bobroff, took over in November 1982. He inherited what was then the largest debt in English football of nearly £5 million, but a right issue would bring in a million. In 1983, a new holding company, Tottenham Hotspur plc, was formed with the football club ran as a subsidiary of the company. With a valuation of £9 million, the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange, the first sports club to do so. Scholar, together with Martin Edwards of Manchester United and David Dein of Arsenal, would transform English football clubs into business ventures that apply commercial principles to the running of the clubs, which would eventually led to the formation of the Premier League.

 

In 1984, Spurs won the UEFA Cup after beating Anderlecht on penalties in Final, the third of the major trophies won by the club under Burkinshaw in the 1980s. However, several weeks before this victory, Burkinshaw announced that he would be leaving at the end of that season, after disagreements with the directors and becoming disenchanted with the club.

Shreeves and Pleat (1984–1987)

Peter Shreeves was appointed the new manager in 1984. According to Scholar, Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson, who would manage Manchester United two years later, had reneged on an agreement to take over. Tottenham enjoyed a strong start to the 1984–85 season, topping the table at Christmas, but they were later leapfrogged by champions Everton and runners-up Liverpool. Their final position of third place in the league would have booked them a UEFA Cup place, but on 29 May 1985, the Heysel disaster, which saw 39 spectators crushed to death by a wall when Liverpool fans rioted at the 1985 European Cup Final, saw all English clubs banned from European competitions indefinitely. Tottenham, along with the other European-qualified teams, excluding Liverpool, (Everton, Manchester United, Southampton and Norwich City) appealed to have the ban changed to cover Liverpool only, but to no avail. This ruled Tottenham out of the UEFA Cup for the 1985–86. They did manage to make an important signing that summer, however, when they signed winger Chris Waddle from Newcastle United, while Perryman left the club in early 1986 after 19 years at the club (17 years in the first team) and a record 655 league appearances. Also in 1986, the club training ground at Cheshunt that Spurs had owned since 1952 was sold for over 4 million.

At the end of that season, Luton Town manager David Pleat was appointed the new manager following the sacking of Peter Shreeves, and for much of 1986–87, Spurs played with a five-man midfield—Glenn Hoddle, Osvaldo Ardiles, Steve Hodge, Paul Allen and Chris Waddle—backing lone striker Clive Allen. Tottenham remained in contention for all three major domestic honours throughout the season, though towards the business end of the championship challenges, the endeavours ended in defeat. In the League Cup, Tottenham lost to eventual competition winners Arsenal in the semi-final. Spurs then missed out on the first division title (which was won by Everton), and, finally, as favourites for the FA Cup over Coventry City, stumbled to a 3–2 loss. The close season of 1987 saw the sale of Glenn Hoddle to Monaco after a decade as the driving force in Tottenham’s midfield, and a year later veteran goalkeeper Ray Clemence retired.

Terry Venables (1987–1993)

Pleat quit in October 1987 following allegations about his private life. He was succeeded by former player Terry Venables, who had by then built up an impressive managerial record. However, the Spurs side that he inherited with a quarter of the 1987–88 season was struggling in the league and could only manage a 13th-place finish, placing them below unfancied sides such as Wimbledon, Coventry and Luton Town. Striker Clive Allen was also less prolific in attack during the season; he was later sold to French club Bordeaux at the end of the campaign.

To invigorate the Tottenham side, Venables paid a national record £2 million for Newcastle midfielder Paul Gascoigne in June 1988, and also signed striker Paul Stewart from Manchester City for £1.7 million. In February that year, Venables had also boosted his attack with a £500,000 move for Liverpool striker Paul Walsh. Spurs made a shaky start to the 1988–89 season, being second from bottom at the end of October but improving to ninth place by the turn of 1989 and finishing sixth in the final table. The next year they were joined by Gary Lineker but lost Waddle, finished third in 1990 title race in which Liverpool finished champions. Spurs had also finished one place above neighbours Arsenal.

Cup win and boardroom drama

By the end of the 1980s and the beginning of 1990s, Spurs had become mired in considerable financial difficulties, with a debt reported to be £20 million in 1991. The East Stand was refurbished in 1989 but its cost had doubled to over 8 million; the company attempts to diversify into other businesses such as the clothing firms Hummel UK and Martex failed to generate the income expected and were in fact losing them money. July 1989 saw the arrival at White Hart Lane of England striker Gary Lineker from Barcelona for a fee of £1.2 million; despite the £4.5 million windfall from the sale of Chris Waddle to Marseille, the cash-strapped club was unable to pay Barcelona in full and Scholar had to organise a secret £1.1 million loan from Robert Maxwell, which caused an uproar when it was revealed. Maxwell, who first owned Oxford United and then Derby County, became interested in the club, putting up Derby County for sale. Venables, who had previously attempted take over the club but failed, then joined forces with businessman Alan Sugarin June 1991 to defeat the takeover attempt by Maxwell and take control of Tottenham Hotspur plc, buying out Scholar for £2 million with Sugar dealing with the club’s debt.

Spurs began the 1990–91 season unbeaten in ten games, but failed to re-discover their earlier league form in the second half of the season, eventually finished tenth in the final table. However, this season remains a highlight for Tottenham for their performances in the 1990–91 FA Cup. A notable match is their 3–1 win over Arsenal in the semi-final, which features a 30-yard free kick from Paul Gascoigne that is considered to be one of the best goals ever seen in the competition. However, in the final against Nottingham Forest, Gascoigne suffered serious cruciate ligament damage in his knee when making a reckless tackle on opponent Gary Charles. Spurs eventually won the match 2–1 after extra time, making Spurs the first team to win eight FA Cups, a record later surpassed by Manchester United in 1996. The excitement in North London over the win also had the unexpected result of prompting Sugar, who had little knowledge of football (alleged to have said “What Double?” when someone mentioned Tottenham’s Double), to contact Venables and jointly buy the club.

Gascoigne was a transfer target for Italian club Lazio, but his knee injury (aggregated later in a nightclub incident) meant that he would be out for the 1991–92 season, and his transfer to Lazio was put on hold. By the summer of 1992, his knee had recovered and he completed his move to Lazio for £5.5million, reduced from the £7.9 million fees agreed before his injury. Gary Lineker then announced in November that he would be leaving Spurs at the end of the season to play in Japan, but scored 28 goals for the club and was voted Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year. Paul Walsh and Paul Stewart would also soon leave the club.

In the 1991–92 season, Venables became chief executive, with Shreeves again taking charge of first-team duties. However, during the summer of 1992, Venables decided to return to manage the first team; Peter Shreeves was sacked, and a European style of management was instituted with Doug Livermore the head coach and Ray Clemence the assistant. Although Sugar and Venables began as equal partner with each investing £3.25 million in the club, Sugar’s financial clout allowed him to increase his stake to £8 million in December 1991, thereby gaining control of the club. In May 1993, after a row at a board meeting, Terry Venables was controversially dismissed from the Tottenham board by Chairman Alan Sugar, whose decision was overturned in the High Court but then reverted on appeal. Despite being initially seen as a saviour of the club, the ousting of a popular figure in the club, later aggravated by a perceived lack of investment in the club, would earn Sugar long-lasting animosity from some fans who repeated called for his resignation.

Beginning of Premier League football (1992–2004)

 

Spurs was one of the five clubs that pushed for the founding of Premier League, created with the approval of The Football Association as replacement for the Football League First Division as the highest division of English football. To coincide with the massive changes in English football, Tottenham made a number of major signings. They paid a club record £2.1 million for Nottingham Forest striker Teddy Sheringham, £750,000 for Southampton defender Neil Ruddock and £1.75 million for Portsmouth’s highly rated 19-year-old winger Darren Anderton. In the first ever Premier League season, which would also be the final year of Venables as Spurs’ manager, Spurs finished eighth, with Teddy Sheringham being the division’s top scorer with 22 goals, 21 scored for Tottenham and one for Nottingham.

Ardiles, Francis and Gross

The departure of Venables saw Tottenham return to a conventional management setup after two seasons of a two-tier structure. Taking charge of the first team was former player Osvaldo Ardiles. Instead of progressing on the eighth-place finish and FA Cup semi-final appearance the previous season, Spurs performed poorly and relegation was soon becoming a real possibility. In the end, they achieved survival with a 15th-place finish. By this period, Spurs had come under investigation for financial irregularities alleged to have taken place in the 1980s while Irving Scholar was chairman, and in June 1994 the club was found found guilty of making illegal payments to players. They received the heaviest punishment ever dished out to an English club: a £600,000 fine, 12 league points deducted for the 1994–95 season and a ban from the 1994–95 FA Cup. Following an appeal, the number of points deducted was reduced but the fine was increased to £1,500,000, and a further arbitration (after Sugar threatened to sue the FA) quashed the points deduction and FA Cup ban, although the fine stayed.

Despite the penalty, the club was determined that Spurs would have a successful season in 1994–95 and began the year signing three players who had appeared at that summer’s World Cup, German striker Jürgen Klinsmann and two Romanians, Ilie Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Popescu. Forward players in Spurs line-up already included Teddy Sheringham, Darren Anderton and Nick Barmby, and Ardiles would choose to play five attacking players, dubbed the “Famous Five” of Klinsmann, Sheringham, Anderton, Barmby, and Dumitrescu.[125] Their debut in the 1994–95 season against Sheffield Wednesday in August 1994, which Spurs won 4–3, was described as a “breathtaking exhibition of football”, but the imbalance in the team would also leak goals (33 in 15 games). Spurs struggled in September with a series of defeats and went out of the Coca-Cola Cup in October. Ardiles was then dismissed with the club standing just two places above the relegation zone, although Spurs would have been 11th in the table with the deducted points later restored.

Ardiles was replaced by Gerry Francis, who alleviated relegation fears and oversaw the club’s climb to seventh place in the league, just missing out on a 1995–96 UEFA Cup place. When the FA Cup ban was lifted, Spurs reached the FA Cup semi-final where they were defeated 4–1 by eventual winners Everton. Klinsmann was top scorer at the club with 29 in all competitions, but he felt that Spurs would not be able to challenge for the title in future seasons, and returned to his homeland to sign with Bayern Munich. Barmby, Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Popescu also departed, and Francis signed the likes of Ruel Fox, Chris Armstrong, as well as a teenager Ledley King (who did not start in the first team for a few years) to the ranks at White Hart Lane. His transfer dealings, however, failed to deliver European qualification or higher, as Spurs finished eighth in 1996 and tenth in 1997. Sheringham left in the summer of 1997 for Manchester United while Les Ferdinand and David Ginola joined the team from Newcastle. In November 1997, Francis decided to resign after Spurs were crushed 4–0 by Liverpool.

Christian Gross, coach of Swiss champions Grasshoppers, was appointed as successor to Francis. However, he failed to turn around the club’s fortunes in the 1997–98 season, and the team battled against the drop for the remainder of the campaign. Klinsmann returned to Spurs in December on loan, and four goals in a 6–2 win away to Wimbledon in the penultimate game of the season was enough to secure survival.

White Hart Lane as it appeared from the late 1990s to 2016

By the end of the 1997–98 season, the renovation of the White Hart Lane stadium was completed. White Hart Lane was converted into an all-seater stadium in the 1990s, and the South stand was rebuilt and a new tier added to the North Stand, leaving the stadium with a capacity of around 36,240. The stadium would stay in this form bar some minor changes until 2016.

George Graham and League Cup win

Gross was sacked just three games into the 1998–99 season, and George Graham was soon hired to take over. Graham signed Steffen Freund, who would become a fans’ favourite. Fans however were critical of Graham with his association with Arsenal, as well as his defensive style of football, especially when Arsene Wenger was starting to achieve major success with Arsenal with an attacking football style previously associated with Spurs. Neverthelss, in Graham’s first season as Spurs manager, 1998–99, the club secured a mid-table finish and won the League Cup. In the final against Leicester City at Wembley Stadium, full-back Justin Edinburgh was sent off after an altercation with Robbie Savage, but the ten-men Spurs secured a dramatic victory through Allan Nielsen’s diving header in the 93rd minute of the game. To cap a good season, star player David Ginola won both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year awards in the year that Manchester United won the Treble.

The club finished mid-table the following year. In May 2000, Tottenham signed Ukrainian striker Sergei Rebrov from Dynamo Kyiv for a club record £11 million. Rebrov, however, was not a success at White Hart Lane, managing just ten goals over the next four seasons.

New ownership and Glenn Hoddle

In February 2001, following repeated fans’ protests, Sugar sold 27% of share holding in Spurs to ENIC Sports PLC, run by Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy, and stepped down as chairman. The rest of his shares were sold in 2007, and Lewis and Levy would eventually own 85% of the club, with Levy responsible for the running of the club. A month after Levy took over as chairman, George Graham was sacked as manager for alleged breach of contract by vice-chairman David Buchler after Graham commented on the financial position of Spurs.

Team management passed to Tottenham legend Glenn Hoddle, who took over in the final weeks of the 2000–01 season from caretaker manager David Pleat. His first game, however, was a defeat to Arsenal in the 2001 FA Cup semi-final. That summer, club captain Sol Campbell, a Spurs academy graduate, joined Arsenal on a Bosman free transfer despite making repeated statements about his desire to remain at Tottenham. The loss of a transfer fee by Spurs, the move to their bitterest rivals, and the perceived disloyalty and underhanded fashion in which he negotiated his move (claimed to be a record £100,000 per week) led to long-term enmity towards Campbell from Spurs fans.

Hoddle turned to more experienced players in the shape of Teddy Sheringham who returned to Spurs in May 2001, Gus Poyet and Christian Ziege for inspiration, and Spurs played some encouraging football in the opening months of his management. Season 2001–02 saw Spurs finish in ninth place, as well as reaching the League Cup final, where they lost to Blackburn, having been the favourites after their 5–1 annihilation of Chelsea in the previous round.

The only significant outlay prior to the following campaign was £7 million for Robbie Keane, who joined from Leeds United. The 2002–03 season started well, with Tottenham top of the league after three successive wins, and Hoddle voted manager of the month in the division for August, although few expected them to stay there. They were still in the top six as late as early February, but the season ended with a tenth-place finish being the result of a barren final ten games of the league campaign that delivered a mere seven points. Several players publicly criticised Hoddle’s management and communication skills. In the following 2003–04 season, Spurs started the poorly, gaining only 4 points out of 6 games. With Spurs struggling third from bottom at the table, Hoddle was sacked by Levy, and David Pleat again took over as caretaker manager.

Resurgence and the Champions League (2004–2014)

 

In June 2004, Tottenham appointed French team manager Jacques Santini as head coach, with Martin Jol as his assistant and Frank Arnesen as sporting director. Santini however quit the club in early November after only 13 games, and was replaced by Jol. The team secured a ninth-place finish in the 2004–05 season. In June 2005, when Arnesen moved to Chelsea, Spurs appointed Damien Comolli as sporting director.

During the 2005–06 season, Spurs spent six months in the top four. Going into the final game of the season, they led rivals Arsenal by a point, but were defeated in their final match, away to West Ham, having been only able to field a weakened team due to a number of players succumbing to an intestinal illness the night before. Spurs were pipped to a UEFA Champions League place, but it was success nevertheless in gaining a place in the UEFA Cup and achieving their highest finish for 16 years. In 2006–07, they finished fifth for the second-straight year.

2008 Carling Cup final, Spurs won 2–1 over Chelsea

Manager Martin Jol was sacked early into the 2007–08 season, with Juande Ramos, formerly of Sevilla, replacing the Dutchman. Spurs, captained by Ledley King, went on to win the League Cup, beating Chelsea 2–1 in the League Cup Final in February 2008. However, Tottenham made the worst start to a season in their history in the 2008–09 season that placed them bottom of the Premier League with equally poor displays in the 2008–09 UEFA Cup, though they still managed to qualify from the group stage. On 25 October 2008, Ramos and director of Football Damien Comolli were sacked with Levy criticising the failure to replace Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane adequately after they were sold in the summer.

Harry Redknapp

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp was appointed as Ramos’ replacement at Tottenham, and Tottenham reverted to a “traditional” setup with Redknapp responsible for both coaching and player transfers. In his first two weeks in charge, Redknapp took the club out of the relegation zone, winning ten out of the 12 points available. The team finished the 2008–09 campaign eighth in the league table. The January transfer window saw the return of Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe to the club after spells at Liverpool and Portsmouth respectively.

 

Spurs started the 2009–10 season well, winning the first four matches of the season. On 22 November 2009, Spurs beat Wigan Athletic 9–1 at White Hart Lane, a record win in the top flight for the club. On 14 April 2010, Tottenham achieved their first Premier League victory against rivals Arsenal at White Hart Lane in 11 years, with goals from Gareth Bale and a spectacular volley from Premier League debutant Danny Rose giving them a 2–1 win. The following season they also won at the Emirates in November 2010 with goals from Rafael van der Vaart and Bale, their first win at Arsenal in 17 years. Spurs finished the 2009–10 season in 4th place, and reached the qualifying rounds of the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Early into the 2010–11 season, Spurs qualified for the group stages of the Champions League after beating the Swiss side Young Boys in a two-leg play off, helped by a hat-trick from Peter Crouch. Tottenham then came top of their group and went to beat A.C. Milan 1–0 on aggregate in the knock-out stage. However, at the quarter-finals, Spurs suffered a heavy defeat against Real Madrid after Peter Crouch was sent off early in the game, and the 10-men team was beaten 4–0 in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, with two goals from Emmanuel Adebayor (who would later join Spurs), and 5–0 on aggregate. In the following year, Spurs qualified 2011–12 UEFA Europa League spot, but failed to get beyond the Europa League group stage.

At the start of the 2011–12 season, the home league game to Everton was cancelled due to rioting in Tottenham a week before the game, and Spurs then lost the next two games. Tottenham then captured ten wins and one draw in their next 11 Premier League matches, and finished the 2011-12 season in 4th place in the Premier League; however, it failed to qualify for the Champions League. At the end of the season, on 13 June 2012, following short contract renewal talks, Harry Redknapp was sacked by the Tottenham board.

Villas-Boas and Sherwood

Following Redknapp’s departure, the club appointed former Chelsea and Porto coach André Villas-Boas as manager. Shortly after his appointment, the club pipped Liverpool for the signature of former Swansea City loanee and 1899 Hoffenheim midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson. Several days later, the club also resolved the protracted transfer saga surrounding Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen. In the 2012–13 season, they finished fifth. Despite winning a dramatic match against Sunderland with a goal from Gareth Bale in the final match of the season, Arsenal won their last match to take the 2013–14 Champions League spot, and Spurs dropped to the Europa League for the second successive season. In their concurrent 2012–13 Europa League campaign, they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Swiss side Basel on penalties.

At the beginning of the 2013–14 season, Bale moved to Real Madrid in September 2013 in what was then a world record transfer fee of €100.8 million (£85.1 million). Following a 6–0 defeat against Manchester City and a 5–0 defeat against Liverpool, André Villas-Boas was dismissed from his role on 16 December 2013. Former Spurs player Tim Sherwood was appointed manager. Sherwood eventually led Spurs to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League. However, Sherwood was sacked as well on 13 May 2014.

A New Era under Pochettino (2014–present)

On 27 May 2014, Mauricio Pochettino was appointed as Tottenham manager on a five-year contract. In Pochettino’s first season with Spurs they finished 5th in the 2014-15 Premier League with 64 points, and also came runners-up in the 2014-15 League Cup Final. Pochettino’s second season with Spurs yielded a much improved Premier League campaign and a title challenge for most of the season with Leicester City. Commentators noted that Spurs had the youngest team in the Premier league, with Pochettino choosing to promote young players, and a new generation of players such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Eric Dier all aged 22 or younger that season. However, Spurs’ title challenge ended with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on 2 May 2016. The team also lost in its last match of the season, costing Spurs’ runners-up spot to rival Arsenal. Tottenham nevertheless ended the season with their highest league finish since 1990.

The 2016-17 season began with a series of 12 unbeaten league matches that ended with a defeat away to Chelsea late November. The performance of the team in the first half of the season was inconsistent; between 15 October and 11 December Spurs won only three of their 13 matches, and went out of both the UEFA Champions League and the League Cup. The team put in a much better performance in 2017, including a win in the North London derby that ensured a higher finish in the Premier League than their rival Arsenal for the first time in 22 years. However the early inconsistencies meant that they fell some way behind the leader Chelsea who had a run of 13 wins (ended by a loss to Spurs in January 2017), and whose lead stretched to 13 points over second-place Spurs at one stage in March. Spurs were unable to overhaul Chelsea’s lead in the league table, and finished the season in second place with 86 points, their highest ever points tally since the Premier League began. This is their highest ranking in 54 years since the 1962–63 season under Bill Nicholson and the team also achieved their first unbeaten home run in 52 years since the 1964–65 season.

New stadium

The construction of a new stadium was initiated at White Hart Lane in 2016, and is due to be completed in time for the 2018-19 season. The new stadium would have a seating capacity of 61,000, a considerable increase from the capacity of 36,000 of the old stadium. A section of the North Stand was removed to allow building work on the new stadium to proceed next to the old stadium. European matches were held at Wembley Stadium for the 2016–17 season due to reduced capacity as part of the stand at White Hart Lane was removed, and the need to comply with the ticketing requirement for European games. A club attendance record of 85,512 spectators was reported for the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League game against Bayer Leverkusen that Spurs lost 1–0. On 14 May 2017, Spurs played their last game at White Hart Lane; a 2–1 victory over Manchester United that secured their second place in the Premier League.

In the 2017–18 season, the club played all it’s home games at Wembley as White Hart Lane had been demolished for the rebuilding. As the stadium has a higher capacity, this season saw a series of record attendances for Premier League games, the highest at the North London Derby on 10 February 2018 when 83,222 spectators witnessed Spurs’ 1–0 win over Arsenal.