Here's a thought that may not be as far fetched as it seems.
Instead of a reserve team – or as we have now, a Spurs XI who will play various ‘friendlies’ throughout the course of the year – why not create a second ‘first’ team that would compete in the regular and full MLS season in North America?
The MLS season overlaps ours, which is a good thing because our players who did show they are ready to make the move up to the first team, or who are simply needed at WHL (due to injuries etc) would already be in top shape should we need them earlier on in the season. When their MLS season ends, they return to train in England until its time in March to head back to the MLS. Harry and crew still get plenty of time to see the XI in person. The MLS season by the way, runs from late March or early April to November, with teams playing 30 regular season games each. So the timing could make sense from a reserve point of view.
As opposed to sending individual players out to various Championship teams, a Spurs team in the MLS would keep our XI together and give us complete control over how they are used, what they learn and the way they are learning it. They’ll learn our system in a competitive environment, with a goal in mind (however modest winning the MLS Championship Cup is).
English rules prevent us doing this in the UK (didn't Mourinho suggest this a while back?).
As well, the MLS takes part in a sort of continent wide 'Champions League' of it's own, called the CONCAF Champions League. The CONCACAF Champions League winner by the way, will qualify as the CONCACAF representative to the 2010 edition of the FIFA Club World Cup.; definitely more motivating for a Spurs XI than the odd friendly in the UK or a return to the current reserve league would provide.
The MLS is making a lot of progress in terms of it’s level of competition and while it still is arguably at League One (or in some cases League Two) level, that’s probably where our reserve teams would be most competitive anyways.
Importantly, a Spurs MLS team would be focused season long and playing at the top level for that part of the world. Psychologically that’s a definite advantage when it comes to teaching a positive attitude and staying focused at a professional level throughout a season.
And, from a purely economic point of view, building the Tottenham brand abroad – particularly in North America where football is only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of reaching its potential audience – building the Spurs brand should be a priority for Levy and the board as it only increases the overall value of the team as a product.
Tottenham you might be surprised to know, has fairly substantial support in North America with ‘fan clubs’ in various cities in the US plus a large fan base in Toronto, Canada (who also play in the MLS).
There are a couple of ways this could work. Either by forming a partnership of sorts with an existing MLS team where Spurs would supply the majority if not all the first team players, or by starting a new franchise in the MLS in a city with a large British or European population. Vancouver or Orlando are potential homes. There are any number of North American cities without an MLS team, but capable of supporting the right kind of team. The appeal to a North American would be huge. Coincidently, Beckham was quoted today as saying he is considering an option of buying into or starting an MLS franchise at the end of his contract, and NBA star Steve Nash is part owner of a future MLS team that hopes to begin play in Vancouver. Either of these opportunities could be a logical partnership that Spurs might be smart to consider?
The idea probably hasn't occurred to anyone at Spurs yet but it’s definitely worth a thought as they and other individual EPL teams look for better options to replace the current options for their reserves.
Finally from a selfish point of view, I’d love to follow an MLS version of ‘Spurs’ in the off-season to get me through those awful months when I’m waiting for the Premiership to start again.
Spurs might not get into the Premiership top four as quickly as we'd like, but a 'North American version of Spurs' – with or without Beckham involved – could be pushing for the MLS Championship Cup right from the start.