Tottenham fans finally realising who the real problem is
After 13 years, 11 managers and four directors of footballs – Tottenham Hotspur fans are finally pointing the finger of blame at chairman Daniel Levy.
Before and after watching their team surrender at home to Stoke City last weekend to record their worst start to a Premier League season since 2004, Spurs fans seem to have finally lost patience with Levy – erecting ENIC OUT and LEVY OUT banners at games before having them swiftly confiscated by club stewards.
The fans, who are paying the second highest ticket prices in the league, looked to voice their contempt at the chairman after their latest home defeat, only to be thwarted by Spurs hierarchy who turned the volume of the post-game music up a few notches to drown the fans out.
But Spurs fans do have reasons to feel aggrieved by Daniel Levy:
Since replacing Alan Sugar as chairman in February 2001, there has been:
- A 77.5% increase in the cheapest season ticket price.
- A 59% increase in the cheapest match-day price.
- A net spend of £513m spend on signings.
- £411m recouped in player sales.
- The most expensive season ticket costing £1,895 – an average £90 per game.
- An average of just £8.6m net spend per season.
- Chairman Daniel Levy make available the funds to make himself become the second highest paid director in the Premier League – even giving himself a £750,000 pay rise in 2013.
Out of the 20 Premier League teams this season, Spurs lie bottom of the net spend table over the past five years – one of only two teams to have made a profit with -£12,850,000. It is hardly the message to send to fans about their aspirations for Champions League football.
ENIC, the company which owns the London club, seem to have a sell-first-buy-later approach on transfer dealings. Fans are slowly realising how Daniel Levy’s main priority is focused on profits rather than on-field success – showed by the club winning only one League Cup during his 13-year tenure.
With a degree in economics, Levy is indeed the shrewd businessman and has been labelled the toughest negotiator in football. So much so, that former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had promised to never sign another player from the north London club after a drawn out process in the Dimitar Berbatov signing in 2009.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas sold goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to Spurs in 2012 and then said: “The negotiation with the Tottenham directors has been the hardest I have ever had to undergo in 25 years. We had people speaking all night with Daniel Levy. He talks a lot and goes back on what we’ve agreed in writing.”
Levy is the man who runs the club on a day-to-day basis for owner, and long-time friend Joe Lewis – who is one of the wealthiest men in football with an estimated worth of £3.5bn. The 52-year-old Levy has done well to mask the problems at White Hart Lane – and has taken credit for the club breaking their transfer record three times in the summer of 2013.
Spurs fans began to turn against their chairman after he brokered the deal for the clubs star player Luka Modric to join Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2012. Unusually, the deal also entailed a ‘special relationship’ between the two clubs.
Tottenham claimed: “The partnership agreement will see the two clubs working together in respect of players, coaching, best practices and commercial relationships.”
Two years on, Spurs have seemingly been at a disadvantage due to the relationship whilst Madrid prospered, signing Gareth Bale a year later for a world-record fee. Levy had egg on his face and steered Spurs to public humiliation as Madrid then sold Mesut Özil to north London rivals Arsenal the same transfer window despite Levy’s desperate pleas to stop Özil signing for Arsène Wenger’s team.
A seemingly one-sided partnership where Madrid are the benefactors who have first option to buy Spurs’ best players has angered the clubs fans.
Pro-Levy supporters will point to the fact that in the nine years before Levy arrived at the club, the highest Spurs had finished in the league was seventh, with an average finish of 10th. But has Levy’s short temper restricted their progression to the next level? He sacked Harry Redknapp after the clubs most successful spell in their Premier League history; and got rid of Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood after a poor run of results – even though they had the second and third highest league win percentage in the club’s history at 59.09% and 53.7% respectively.
He has not made the managers life any easier by employing Technical Directors who have the authority on club transfers. Current manager Mauricio Pochettino will not be encouraged to see which players Franco Baldini has brought in for previous managers. Signing seven last year, the new signings did not seem to fit the philosophy of Villas-Boas, and has been credited as the main reason for his inability to lead Spurs into the top four. Not a fresh problem, as in 2008 Spurs brought in Frazer Campbell on loan to replace star striker Dimitar Berbatov on deadline day. Then-manager Juande Ramos was sacked eight games into the season.
The club again failed to invest the necessary amount when Harry Redknapp’s side broke into Europe’s top competition for just the second time in the clubs history. Defensive weaknesses were not addressed, but masked by the club signing Rafael van der Vaart for £8m from Real Madrid to lead fans into contentment as they believed their manager and Chairman had pulled of the steal of the century.
Four years on, things have a familiar outlook. Manager Mauricio Pochettino requested Morgan Schneiderlin, but ended up with cheaper alternative Benjamin Stambouli – who has only made one appearance for the club.
Pochettino had identified his own players but ended up with second-rate Federico Fazio and Ben Davies to mould into his philosophy. It is no wonder why the club lies in 11th place.
Under Levy, Spurs’ transfer dealings are sourcing younger players with a high re-sale value, rather than those capable of making an immediate impact. The clubs best players have consistently been sold off for a large profit: Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane, Luka Modric, and of course, Gareth Bale. A tactic which Levy has employed several time as chairman is to have his best players sign a long-term deal in order to boost their value and sell them the following year. Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris signed a five-year deal in July this year – but is the arrival of Michael Vorm as ‘back up’ a sign of the inevitable?
Then there is the arrival of ‘StubHub’, which allows the general public to purchase tickets off Spurs fans. A money-making strategy for the club – perhaps showing Levy’s priority – has allowed non-Spurs fans into the ground. Predictably, this has produced an adverse effect on the grounds atmosphere and its attendance.
Finally, and perhaps most controversially, the Northumberland Project. Levy introduced the idea of a new stadium in 2008. In 2009 it was announced that the stadium would be ready by 2012-13. Now as 2015 approaches, Spurs are still occupying White Hart Lane – which ensures the club will have to play their home fixtures at an away ground whilst the new stadium is being built as their White Hart Lane contract runs out. The finances are not in place to build a new stadium which leads Spurs fans to think…will Levy leave with his pockets full of cash when the stadium is eventually built – leaving the club in a financial mess?
Search #ENICOut on Twitter and you will find a large number of Spurs die-hards cry for a change in the clubs regimes. Their voices may be drowned out at their beloved White Hart Lane, but they are no doubt heard outside the stadium and across the footballing world.
Levy is perhaps not the Spurs legend which fans have often labelled him over the past decade. He may be a genius, but as the fans now realise, it is the evil genius in him that have prevented Spurs from going to the next level.
So what do the majority of Spurs fans think about the clubs downfall? Read Joe Aldridge’s take here: