The Minnesota Vikings will play their week 4 matchup against the New Orleans Saints on neutral ground in North London at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Home of Tottenham Hotspur FC. This week gives us an opportunity to discuss the football played across the pond, and what significance it has.
The Vikings’ record in London is currently a spotless 2-0 with victories against the Steelers and Browns respectively. At the very least the Vikings are matching their historical counterparts by dominating English territory, before the Battle of Hastings anyway. Minnesota of course intends to keep this record clean, and in front of a London crowd against the Saints no less, but what’s the significance of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the first place?
To give some background information, Tottenham Hotspur, also known as just “Tottenham” or “Spurs”, are a professional football club that plays in the English Premier League, the top flight league in England. Tottenham are situated in North London, north of the Thames, and are regarded as one of the top clubs in England as it’s conjoined with what’s known as the “Big 6” that also consists of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Chelsea plays on the west end of London and Arsenal share North London with Tottenham. Arsenal and Tottenham’s rivalry spans decades and their respective derby is known as the self explanatory North London Derby. Both clubs have found success over the years despite Tottenham’s lack of silverware compared to Arsenal’s golden age of trophies in the late 90s and Early 2000s. In more recent years the rivalry’s grown in competitiveness as Tottenham’s risen up the table as a proper club with the capabilities of challenging for a top 4 spot in the league each and every season. What’s especially interesting is their new stadium that finished construction not too long ago.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a new, state of the art facility in the growing number of new stadiums sprouting across England. What makes it special is it’s built in capacity to modify itself into an American football field. Most football pitches are actually less wide than American football fields, meaning that if you would want to play both sports on one field according to regulation, you’d need to stretch the football pitch to meet the standard dimensions. The new stadium is built specifically for this as Tottenham hopes to gain the profits of big money NFL teams crossing the pond to throw the pigskin in front of a London crowd. Tottenham may be a high ranking club but their financials pale in comparison to that of Manchester United, owned by the Glazer family who also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or Liverpool who’re owned by FSG, the same group that owns the Boston Red Sox. Spurs don’t have the same amount of money in their corner, and don’t even get started on Manchester City whose owners are worth over $15 billion, or newly purchased Newcastle United that are worth however much Saudi Arabia chooses to spend any given day, but just as an estimate, their owners, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, are currently valued at over $600 Billion as of today.
Tottenham grow in value every year, but in football, money talks. In fact it’s been a common criticism of the Premier League to just let billionaires purchase clubs and feed them full of money to buy and develop the best starting XIs on the planet for the purpose of their own enjoyment and to line their pockets. It sucks the competitiveness out of the leagues with big money clubs, and the fact that a club worth over $1 billion still struggles really puts it into perspective.
Some may be asking what any of this has to do with the Vikings, and the answer is not much to be honest. There was a moment a few years ago where Tottenham were on a tour through the US during a summer preseason and they used Minnesota’s facilities, so there’s that small connection. Otherwise, I’ll be honest this was mostly an excuse to talk about and potentially introduce the other football to Americans sports fans. It’s a genuine passion of mine, and seeing others drop their preconceptions and welcome the sport as any other would be a great step towards seeing the sport grow in the States. Hell the USMT just drew 0-0 with Saudi Arabia so it’s not like the national team is sparking any interest. Maybe the next World Cup which is slated to be hosted in the United States will drive interest the same way the 94’ World Cup did. That competition is the reason the MLS was founded, if only that league were as competitive and entertaining as the ones in Europe.
For now, we can just enjoy watching the Vikings travel to London and play on the same field as Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min, hopefully returning home 3-1 and keeping the playoff hopes alive. Until then, Manchester City are champions and Erling Haaland is eternal.