One of the most important rules in business is also one of the simplest: don't annoy your customers.
It is one that the Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy should have bore in mind when informing people about the progress – or lack thereof of his club's shiny new stadium.
Football is a peculiar business in that a club's customers – fans, as they used to be called – are unique in that they are unlikely to go to a rival if their own team makes them angry.
It is not as if Spurs fans are going to decamp en masse to Arsenal, a mere four miles away, no matter how many times their chairman says “next month, promise” about their new ground.
But they would be forgiven for thinking whether to renew their season tickets, having been treated to a drip-feed of news about the new White Hart Lane.
They were first told it would be ready for the opening game of the season. Then September. Then the Manchester City game, definitely.
Then just after the NFL had left town (cross my heart). Then Christmas (maybe). Then “sometime in January, we hope”. Now it looks as if fans will not be able to sit in their new home until March.
Levy's PR disaster
It has been a public relations disaster for Levy, who has come out of this looking totally naïve with regards to the difference between the proposed length of building projects and the actual time they end up taking.
It is as if he has never had a bathroom re-fitted at his house, let alone been in charge of a major construction project.
Building pro tip, Mr Levy: whether it is re-tiling your dunny or safety testing your stadium fire exits, these things always take longer (and cost more) than originally quoted.
If he (or the club) had advised fans way back in 2015 when the plans were revealed, that 2020-21 is the likely moving date, then people would have been disappointed, impatient, even – but at least the timeline would have been realistic.
As it has turned out, fans have been handed a cycle of false hope followed by crushing disappointment.
Blame for delays
Levy cannot be blamed for the delays, which are more due to red tape than construction hassles.
Indeed, supporters were treated to a look around part of the stadium in December and it looked close to ready.
But no matter how cool the glass bubble bridge between stands looks, Is need to be dotted and Ts crossed with regards to regulations over crowd control and safety in emergencies.
No fan, no matter how keen, would want to bring forward the opening day if it meant skimping on safety checks.
Gunners first up?
As for the revised opening date, Spurs have confirmed that their next three ‘home' Premier League matches, against Watford, Newcastle and Leicester, will be played at Wembley.
The fixture that follows, on 2 March, is Arsenal.
Would they dare run the risk of the first game on the hallowed and extremely costly turf of their swanky new ground being forever tarnished by a defeat by their bitter north London rivals?
It is unlikely – because apart from the danger of Arsenal fans gaining eternal banter, whatever tiny thing that does go wrong (a toilet floods, turnstiles are a little slow or the beer is alcohol-free) it will be amplified enormously because it is a derby.
So Crystal Palace on 16 March it is then (probably).
At least Levy has apologised. But there is no doubt that he has stretched fans' patience to the absolute limit.
The crowds at Wembley are dwindling – next week Brent Council will vote on whether to raise the capacity from 51,000 to 62,000 spectators, but it needn't worry.
A mere 44,371 could be bothered to turn up for Tuesday night's game: a cup semi-final against London rivals Chelsea.
And if the débâcle goes on much longer, then Levy may have to get used to empty seats.
Because he is far from keeping his customers satisfied. And they do have a choice.
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Original source: https://inews.co.uk/sport/tottenham-daniel-levy-stadium-farce/