May 18 2013 Latest news:
By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Having equalised in ‘Fergie Time’ against Manchester United on Sunday, Tottenham fans are now looking forward to ‘Levy Time’ – the climax of the transfer window, when their chairman tends to make his moves.
Spurs supporters have grown accustomed to waiting until the 11th hour, and even beyond. Hugo Lloris and Clint Dempsey both arrived in the final hours of August, and the attempt to sign Porto’s Joao Moutinho came so late that the two clubs ran out of time to complete the deal.
So far the winter window has been quiet. Spurs have landed a promising youngster in 20-year-old Zeki Fryers, and Schalke’s Lewis Holtby will arrive on a free transfer in the summer - but that will not help Andre Villas-Boas and his players over the coming months.
The weak spots in the squad are there for all to see – particularly when the club are fighting on three fronts.
The Lilywhites are one injury away from a striker shortage, Sandro’s injury means they are now heavily reliant on Mousa Dembele and Scott Parker in the centre of midfield, and there is no like-for-like replacement for Gareth Bale or Aaron Lennon – apart from Andros Townsend.
Spurs supporters are desperate for Levy to get his chequebook out and help to avoid a repeat of last season’s collapse - and they are hoping that the lack of movement so far is merely a prelude to the usual flurry of action on deadline day.
However, Tottenham’s financial figures were released on Tuesday – and they provided a timely reminder that there is more to a football club than its manager and playing staff.
In the financial year ending June 30 2012, Spurs announced that their total revenue was down 12 per cent from the previous year, “which was primarily due to the absence of Champions League football”.
Media revenues increased by 10 per cent, as did the income from sponsorship and corporate hospitality, but merchandising was four per cent lower – again, “largely due to the lack of Champions League participation”. Ultimately, after interest and tax, Spurs made a loss of £4.3million.
The timing of the statement was due to Deloitte’s Football Finance Report, which is published this week and would have included some of Tottenham’s figures – so the club opted to release the information first.
In that sense, they were hurried into it. However, the timing may just work in Levy’s favour - after all, this is a very good time to plead a lack of available funds.
A renowned operator in the transfer market, the chairman may perhaps be able to use these figures to his advantage at the negotiating table.
However, rival clubs will doubtlessly be aware that Spurs’ figures only go up to June 2012 and therefore do not include the club’s summer transfer business, when they made a profit of around £7million. They will also know that Tottenham failed with a £24m bid for Moutinho on August 31.
Levy may therefore struggle to sell the image of ‘poor old cash-strapped Spurs’ – but Tuesday’s figures may help his relationship with the fans, releasing some of the pressure on him to splash out in the coming week and reminding them of the balancing act which he oversees on a daily basis.
“The club continues to comply with UEFA Financial Fair Play criteria and supports its further integration into the Premier League,” read the statement – underlining the point that Tottenham must live within their own means, despite only having a 36,000-seater stadium, and having missed out on Champions League football for the last two years.
It continued: “In order for the club to continue to thrive it is important to address the limitations placed on match day income by the current stadium.”
Levy added: “We are ever ambitious for the club, driving all areas of the business and our focus continues to be the delivery of an increased capacity stadium.
“We intend to deliver this to the same high standards of the new training centre” – another reminder of where significant funds have been invested.
Ultimately, Spurs fans love the club and cheer for the team, not the business – but football is a business game and what happens behind the scenes in terms of revenue, sponsorship and merchandising directly influences the assets which Villas-Boas can be given on the field.
Tottenham supporters will justifiably be concerned that their squad currently looks too thin to fight on three fronts, and they will know that a couple of strong recruits could make all the difference in the fight for the top four – as well as the FA Cup and Europa League.
However, Tuesday’s financial statement has given Spurs fans a glimpse of Levy’s world, highlighting the gamble that a spending spree would represent - and the dilemma which he faces in the coming days.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs