Just after 6pm on a cold, dark February night, a stream of football fans are making their way towards the light of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. There is no match taking place tonight but those fans – 50 very fortunate American Express Gold Card members – are heading for the ultimate football insider experience: an audience with The Athletic.

Since its arrival in the UK in 2019, The Athletic has forged its reputation as being home to the very best team of football writers, reporters, and analysts in the world. Tonight will see four of the team discussing the January transfer window. The venue for the event is the West Atrium of Tottenham’s multi-award-winning stadium, widely acknowledged as one of the finest arenas on the planet.

Ready For Kick-Off

Tickets for the event sold out in under 30 minutes, which explains why the guests arrive with broad grins on their faces. We are welcomed and led through a grand marble reception where a huge, animated graphic of record goalscorer Harry Kane plays out across the wall. Passing glass cabinets with FA Cups and European trophies, guests enter the sleek and ultra-exclusive Tunnel Club for welcome drinks. It costs £30,000 for Tunnel Club membership, plus £20,000 per season, but full access comes with the ticket tonight. “I’ve watched matches from the seats in the South Stand,” smiles one guest, “but I’ve never been in here before. It’s stunning.”

Exploring The Dressing Room & Beyond

A ticket tonight also gives guests access to some of Tottenham’s most off-limit areas. 

We are free to visit the players’ warm-up room, the pre- and post-match dining room, and the physio suite, before arriving at the Head Coach’s office, where not a paper clip is out of place.

All routes inevitably lead to the Home Dressing Room, however, where the shirts of the first-team players hang along the room in numerical order. The scene draws the widest eyes of the night. “You just don’t get to see this normally,” marvels one die hard Spurs fan. All eyes are drawn, inevitably, to the shirt and seat of Harry Kane. As they flock for selfies where the record goalscorer sits, the stadium tour guide makes a confession. “Harry’s shirt is number 10, so it’s on the left today, but he actually sits right in the centre on matchday. He usually gives a team talk from the middle of the room and the rest of the team huddles around him.”

We exit the Dressing Room and head towards the players’ tunnel and the pitch, where state-of-the-art lighting beams warm air onto the surface to protect it against the February frost. The system will stay in place all week to guarantee the playing surface remains in perfect condition, then retract quietly into the bowels of the stadium until it’s needed again.

Taking our seats in the dugouts for a manager’s eye view, the four sides of the stadium rise high all around us. Up past the vast, dramatic ‘White Wall’ of the South Stand, a giant golden cockerel looks down over the stadium. Smartphones click away as fans capture the moment.

Through The Transfer Window With The Athletic

Back inside, we are guided back into the warmth of the Press Auditorium, where the Tottenham Head Coach usually faces the press. But today it is the press facing Cardmembers as The Athletic’s writers give their insights on the January 2023 transfer window.

L-R: The Athletic’s Jay Harris, Laurie Whitwell, Adam Crafton and Laura Williamson

Deputy Editor Laura Williamson explains that one of The Athletic’s main aims is to tell fans things they don’t know about their football club. We learn why Arsenal really missed out on Mykhailo Mudryk and why Hakim Ziyech’s move to Paris Saint-Germain fell through. We also get a very expert and measured take on why Chelsea’s reported £323 million of spending in January makes much more sense in the long term than the short.

When the discussion switches to audience questions, the panel discuss the Jude Bellingham transfer rumours, and why the proposed European Super League won’t happen – but a seismic change to the Champions League almost certainly will.

“I don’t think we’ll see a European Super League because Premier League clubs evidently don’t need the money,” says writer Adam Crafton. “The more realistic conversation over the next few years is, do we take Champions League games out of Europe and give the US and Asia games that actually matter? I think that will become inevitable.”

Debate rages on as we leave the Auditorium and head for our final stop: dinner in The Tunnel Club.

Dining In Style By The Players’ Tunnel

As its name reflects, The Tunnel Club sits right beside the players’ tunnel, its glass wall giving matchday guests an incredible view of the stars as they emerge from the changing rooms and make their way onto the pitch.

Tonight, guests take their places and reflect on what they have seen, heard and experienced as waiters deliver hearty bowls of pork belly and short rib to their tables.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” smiles one guest. “The stadium is phenomenal, The Athletic gave us brilliant insight, and the food is absolutely delicious.” As if to confirm as much, a desert of brioche treacle tart with clotted cream and berries arrives and very quickly disappears.

By 9.30pm the event is drawing to a close. Reluctantly, guests begin to leave the warm, comfortable confines of The Tunnel Club and make their way back into the night. They exit the stadium with magical memories and –  thanks to The Athletic – a more advanced understanding of the beautiful game.

Make sure to look out for the next exciting event your Gold Card is bringing you in the app, and turn on push notifications to be at the front of the queue.

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