By Martin Cloake, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust board member

There’s a certain irony in the fact that the discussion over Tottenham Hotspur shifting grounds seems to be built upon permanently shifting grounds.

The unveiling of an innovative new stadium that would be built while the team continued to play on the current site seems as if it was an age ago. That solution was welcomed by Spurs fans and the local community, unlike the plans to uproot the club and move to Stratford. That idea was fiercely opposed and defeated, in part due to concerted campaigning by Spurs fans and the local community. Now, we have yet another plan, one which apparently means the club will have to move away from Tottenham for at least one season while an as yet unspecified stadium is built.

When the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust carried out a survey just before the start of this season, it asked if fans would be prepared to watch games away from White Hart Lane if that enabled the new ground to be built quicker. Some 60 per cent said they would. The Trust also listed a number of alternative venues and asked where fans preferred. An overwhelming 85 per cent said Wembley. Anecdotal evidence, picked up from conversations with other fans in the pubs and cafes around the ground, on away trips and in daily conversation, strongly suggests that, for most fans, relocating from White Hart Lane meant relocating to Wembley.

The latest announcement from the club has changed the landscape – and not in the way Spurs fans and the local community would like. Not only will a new stadium not be built more quickly if the club relocates, but it appears there is a very real possibility of Tottenham Hotspur relocating outside north London, or even outside London altogether. If that survey was being conducted today, the answer to the question – based on what we now know – might well be very different. Indeed, the question itself would be different. With answers seeming to emerge as faits accompli, it’s time to consider if the right questions are being asked.

Tottenham Hotspur need a bigger stadium, first and foremost because more people want to watch games than are able to get tickets. A bigger stadium can also help the club to compete in the fierce commercial world of modern football. But being able to compete depends upon more than just revenue generation, and when Manchester United’s latest shirt deal is worth £250m more than the entire cost of THFC’s new stadium build it is important to be realistic about what can be achieved.

The stadium project is also vital for the regeneration of an area in desperate need of it. There are arguments, again, over the extent of the regeneration, with vested interests on all sides inflating or deflating potential benefits to suit their agenda. What is beyond doubt is that there will be more benefit if the redevelopment project goes ahead than if it does not.

So, as the detail of the debate changes, one constant remains. A bigger stadium for Spurs will be good for the club, good for the fans, and good for the local community.

Moving Tottenham Hotspur away from Tottenham presents a number of problems, especially if the new location is outside London. There are obvious travel difficulties for supporters. But there are deeper issues. Tottenham Hotspur has always played in Tottenham. It is the one constant in the club’s history, and as such it is a key part of the club’s identity. The value placed on that by Spurs supporters was demonstrated clearly during the fight against the ill-advised attempt to relocate permanently to Stratford.

In the modern football business, brand loyalty is gold dust. So the value of that identification Tottenham Hotspur fans have with their club from Tottenham is not just an emotional attachment – important as that is – but also something that makes THFC a powerful and valuable brand. Not just in this country, but across the world. The location is a vital part of the club’s identity.

Break that link and it is broken forever. Leaving London altogether would not only break the link, it would scatter the resulting pieces to the four winds. North London would be conceded to Arsenal. Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham would be the big London clubs, identified with the capital, with roots in their location and able to capitalise on London’s profile and reputation. Spurs would be just another franchise, fetching up where it could to ply its trade with tradition and identity consigned to the pages of history.

For the local community, a move away completely, even for a season, would be a massive blow. Many businesses depend upon matchday income. So when, or if, the club came back to what was once home, what would be left? What would there be to regenerate? Of course, Tottenham would survive if its club abandoned it. But it would survive much better if it didn’t.

Given all that, what are the questions that need to be asked? Here are a few.

• Given that the club itself has said that a new stadium will not be open until 2018/19 at the earliest, what are the benefits of re-examining options to extend the current stadium? Would a bigger ground sooner not be better than no increased capacity for longer?

• After the latest announcement, would supporters rather see an extended building project that enabled Tottenham Hotspur to stay in Tottenham and, if so, shouldn’t the club revive the plans to build most of the new stadium while the current one is still in use?

• Tottenham Hotspur is one of the historic brand names that helps to project the FA Premier League as one of this country’s most successful exports. How much priority is the FA giving to enabling THFC to relocate to Wembley, the solution favoured by the overwhelming majority of supporters, and which would retain the club’s links with its roots and the local community?

• Why is one of the largest stadiums in the capital, Twickenham, continually allowed to block football events when no other location can do the same? While  Twickenham would represent a major shift, it has the benefit of both sufficient capacity and being in the capital.

• Given the potential effect on the capital’s economy, and particularly on the local community in Tottenham, what efforts are public authorities making to ensure the swiftest possible solution that keeps the club in the capital? In particular, why is the remaining CPO process being allowed to drag on for so long?

The latest statement on stadium development and ensuing debate once again seems to present conclusions as inevitable. The fans and the local community should be at the centre of this discussion, but we are all too frequently told that options are simply not possible without further detail being given. This fuels a culture of suspicion. While there are, of course, serious commercial sensitivities surrounding discussions of a new stadium build, the value of achieving full buy-in it should be obvious by now.

There is an old saying that says “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Surely now is the time for a proper discussion and agreement about what we want to achieve, rather than a continuation of the constant battle over what we are told can be achieved.