Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Wembley switch might not suit Chelsea or Tottenham, warns Wenger

Published 21/01/2016

Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal's decision to play Champions League matches at the old Wembley was a mistake
Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal's decision to play Champions League matches at the old Wembley was a mistake

Arsene Wenger has warned Chelsea and Tottenham they could face a disadvantage when they make temporary moves away from their home grounds.

The Arsenal boss believes their London rivals will not feel at home while they are forced to relocate due to building works, with both eyeing moves to Wembley.

Chelsea are seeking a four-year tenancy while Stamford Bridge is redeveloped, while Spurs are likely to need a ground for the 2017/18 campaign as their new stadium next to their current White Hart Lane home is completed.

Wenger managed Arsenal at the old Wembley as Arsenal opted to play their home Champions League fixtures at the national stadium rather than the much smaller Highbury.

The Gunners won just twice in their two-year stay at Wembley - failing to get out of the group stages in either the 1998/99 or 1999/00 competitions.

They then moved their fixtures back to Highbury and, although Wenger said at the time of Arsenal announcing their use of Wembley that the club were in a situation where they needed to "either improve or die", he now admits it was the wrong move.

"It was a nightmare," he said.

"In hindsight it was the wrong decision. At the time at Highbury we had to cut 5,000 seats. We decided to go to Wembley, but we didn't feel at home.

"The pitch was bigger, the ground was different and for the English players it was something completely unusual .

"We were used at Highbury to a tight pitch and unfortunately we were playing against Dynamo Kiev, who were running everywhere on a very big pitch. It was a disadvantage for sure."

At his press conference ahead of the visit of Chelsea on Sunday, Wenger said he saw no prospect of ground-sharing with north London rivals Tottenham.

Milton Keynes is also an option for Tottenham, but Wenger dismissed any suggestion it could be Arsenal who offer a temporary home to their bitter rivals.

''Not really,'' he said when asked if Tottenham could go to the Emirates Stadium.

''We suffered a lot to build this stadium and had to be very tight financially to pay it back. I don't know, but I don't feel it is in our plans to do it.

''We don't need it and we have not been approached for it as well. It's a board decision, not mine.''

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph