For a man whose power wields an awful lot of influence upon his club’s fate and fortunes, there remains something wonderfully understated about Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy.
While it is the Spurs supremo’s decisions that have played a very large part in shaping the current set-up of the club that we look at today, supporters have often been left very much in the periphery of understanding why these decisions were made.
Of course, it’s bordering on the naïve to expect the Tottenham hierarchy to disclose the logic behind every decision, both footballing and business based. Fans both support and respect the job that Levy has done during his time in North London and at times, it’s very easy to take the astuteness of Spurs’ financial acumen for granted.
Although while there’s nothing to overtly criticise about the club’s slick and silent style of business, can there be something a little disconcerting about the lack of noise that radiates out from the corridors of power at White Hart Lane?
A whirl around the giddy and often surreal environment that is the digital domain of the Tottenham Hotspur support online, can be a colourful environment at the best of times. But come the opening of the Premier League transfer window, it almost takes on a life of its own. Yet the talk and debate isn’t always just on what players might make their way to the club.
The focus all too often seems to switch concurrently with gentle guess-timation upon the club’s finances. Again, this isn’t a critique against the club living within their means, in fact it’s quite the opposite – Levy should be commended on his stringent financial principles.
But while announcing to the world the exact amount of money you’re happy to allocate to your manager might affect your standing in the transfer market, it wouldn’t hurt to let fans know it’s there every now and then.
Earlier this year, Manchester United chief executive David Gill publicly reassured supporters that the club have money to spend and that moves were already being made to move the club on in terms of transfer recruitment. Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis has been very vocal over the past two transfer windows in informing fans (albeit suspectly) that there’s money there to be spent. This isn’t particularly Daniel Levy’s style.
It’s difficult to pre-empt such a statistic as fact given the issues with undisclosed fees, signing-on amounts and agents fees, but Tottenham’s transfer expenditure this summer was set around the £59,800,000 mark. Their income from transfer revenue? Again, it’s difficult to determine, but that also winds up to around the £59,000,000.
Just a strange coincidence, or perhaps a suggestion that Spurs couldn’t spend more than what they earned during the summer? The truth is we simply don’t know. But with reports continuously circling that Villas-Boas can expect a near on £20million war chest from Levy in January, would it really do that much harm to simply go on record in saying that the money’s there to back the manager?
Some have suggested the information may have been deliberately leaked to the press, which isn’t out the boundaries of reality. It certainly seems a strange way of doing things, though.
And in terms of managerial communications, the Spurs board have also been oddly curious in their recent wall of silence. We’ve heard all the stories, counter-stories and conspiracies as to why Harry Redknapp left the club in June. What’s now done is done. But the explanation from the club itself amounted to:
“This is not a decision the Board and I [Levy] have taken lightly. Harry arrived at the club at a time when his experience and approach was exactly what was needed,” before going on to thank the now QPR boss.
Considering the gravitas of that decision and the implications a change of management can have upon a club, that’s hardly offering the paying supporter much in the way of an explanation. Whether you’re pro-Redknapp, pro-AVB or despise both of them, it’s not unfair to demand a little more in the way of an explanation.
Even this season, while the club should be commended for the way in which it has vigorously defended the use of the ‘Y-word’ by the home support, there’s not been much in the way of public support towards Andre Villas-Boas. Now tweeting after every match day cuddling up to the manager only to sack him, a la Tony Fernandes, is hardly going to happen in N17.
But considering how much he let the Portuguese down in the summer, would a bit of public backing from Levy have really gone a miss? If the sporadic news reports suggesting Villas-Boas’ job has been on the line at several points this season have been complete rubbish, how hard would it have been for Levy to have come out and publicly slammed them into the ground? Tabloid fodder it may be, but it goes a fair way to forming public opinion, one that Villas-Boas could have done without getting any sourer.
Credit must be given where it’s due and after several seasons of what has sometimes felt like archaic lines of communications with the fans, the club is slowly learning. The Spurs Official Twitter feed has been more active than it ever has been, keeping fans abreast of team news and club developments as soon as it happens. It’s a good start, but it can’t end there.
Tottenham are a superbly run club, but you can’t help but feel that their PR skills leave a lot to be desired. It’s not a major gripe, it’s not something that’s going to affect how the team plays its football and it’s not going to define the grander plans and future of the club. But it’d certainly help put the fans’ minds at rest – a difference that shouldn’t be underestimated.