By SC member minesadouble
I don’t expect this long article (split into three parts) to interest every SC member. But after the dust has settled on our defeat to Liverpool and Transfer Deadline Day, and now the international break is over, it may help fill a gap before next weekend.
Following the disappointment felt by some fans after the Window closed - with Levy receiving online abuse and accusations - I have been doing a bit of research into Spurs’ finances. My starting point was to compare our June 2013 Annual Report with our 2006 Annual Report (which itself was written 5 years after Levy became chairman in 2001) to consider if we have really moved forward, or not?
For the record, I have been a Spurs fan since 1962 and a shareholder since the original float in 1983. I spent two decades in banking and another 18 years as CEO (now chairman) of a high street retail company. I’m not an accountant or an economist but I am pretty familiar with corporate accounts and figures.
I will begin this evaluation with a quote from Levy’s statement back in 2006; “During the year the following players left the club – Sean Davis, Michael Brown, Noe Pamarot, Pedro Mendes, Andy Reid, Grzegorz Rasiak, Noureddine Naybet, Goran Bunjevcevic, Johnnie Jackson, Dean Marney, Stephen Kelly and Mounir El Hamdaoui.” Just pause a bit there, and re-read that list of twelve names. I don’t want to be rude about any ex-player of ours, but there can’t be more than a couple listed there who, even at their peak, would be signed by Spurs now. Our current playing squad is undeniably a vast improvement on most of those names.
To continue from the 2006 Report, at that time Levy was also “pleased to welcome Mido (returning on a revised deal), Danny Murphy, Hossam El Ghaly, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Didier Zokora, Pascal Chimbonda, Steed Malbranque, Dimitar Berbatov, Dorian Dervitte and Tomas Pekhart.”
With hindsight, not all those players worked out, but we were undeniably trying to buy higher quality than those who had left, within our means and status at the time. In 2006, we had just qualified for Europe (UEFA Cup) for the first time in the Levy era. Our annual turnover (income) at that time was £74 million.
To put that turnover 2006 figure in context, we ranked fifth behind United (£173m), Chelsea (£153m), Arsenal (£132m) and Liverpool (£122m), with Spurs (£74m) ahead of Man City (£62m). The main difference between the top four earners and the rest of us was, unsurprisingly, their Champions league revenues.
Back in 2006, Levy faced a classic “chicken and egg” challenge: how to continue to improve our playing squad relative to the Top 4, but with only half the income of the ‘Top 4 average’ (£145m) to spend on players. We needed the Champions League to provide us with the money to buy and pay better players, but first we needed better players to qualify for the Champions League. In part two, let’s consider if Levy pulled it off.