Tottenham Hotspur will consider whether to move their European home ties from Wembley back to White Hart Lane if they end up in the Europa League and Moussa Sissoko has said it would be better for them to play at their home stadium.
Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat at Monaco on Tuesday signalled the end of their hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the Champions League and they will qualify for the Europa League if they avoid defeat against CSKA Moscow in their final group game on 7 December at Wembley.
“I think it would be good for us to play at home in the Europa League, and by home, I mean White Hart Lane,” Sissoko said. “Going home would make it easier for us. We know the stadium and it would be better for us.”
Tottenham’s Champions League demise owed much to their defeats against Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley, which they have used while their new stadium is being built adjacent to White Hart Lane. Uefa has deemed the club’s traditional home to be unfit to stage Champions League ties “owing to the impact on access, capacity and rights delivery of the construction work”.
Uefa would consider the staging of Europa League ties at White Hart Lane, where the capacity is capped at below 32,000. “Upon a specific request by a club, Uefa would look into it,” a spokesman said.
It is understood there is no binding agreement between Tottenham and the Football Association that states the club must play Europa League ties at Wembley this season. Spurs have the option to do so but could choose not to. The FA will take its lead from Tottenham and, if it turns out they will play in the Europa League, there will be discussions between the two parties.
Spurs have yet to decide whether to play any Europa League ties at Wembley or White Hart Lane. They are weighing up their options and a move back to White Hart Lane would please not only Sissoko. There are other players in the squad who have expressed reservations in private about playing at Wembley.
For all of its appeal the national stadium has felt unfamiliar to the players and, in short, simply not like home. A case could also be made for Wembley having diluted Tottenham’s advantage. Unlike White Hart Lane, it has never felt particularly hostile to opposing Champions League teams.
The discussion has raised an interesting question that relates to next season, when Spurs have the option to play all of their fixtures – domestic and European –at Wembley, while the work on their stadium is completed.
The club said in May their agreement with Wembley “additionally provides an option to play all our Premier League and cup home games at Wembley for the 2017-18 season. The timetable is also dependent on infrastructure, transport and associated commitments being delivered by Transport for London and Haringey council.”
As yet nothing has been signed between Tottenham and the FA for next season at Wembley. Sissoko’s comments, though, raise the prospect of the players being less than comfortable at the national stadium for a whole season. Tottenham have always said they plan to take up the option of Wembley.
The Champions League exit has provided a far from ideal buildup to Saturday’s visit to Chelsea, where Tottenham’s title hopes ended last season in acrimonious fashion. Spurs had a record nine players booked in the 2-2 draw in May.
“I watched the game on TV and it was very tough,” Sissoko, the £30m summer signing from Newcastle United, said. “I saw the tackles flying in and it is going to be another massive game on Saturday. I am sure we will be ready for it. Every derby is tense and this will be no different. All the players will be up for it, do not worry. It will be another big battle.”
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