Harry Redknapp doesn’t much like being called a ‘wheeler and dealer.’ “I’m a f*****g football manager, not a wheeler and dealer.” That was his response to being called it in a interview after his side lost at home to Wigan at the start of the season. But given Spurs’ recent financial figures, Harry could yet again have to do what he’s known best for.
On the face of things, it doesn’t look bad for Tottenham. They reported record revenues £119.8 million which according to chairman David Levy, represents ‘significant progress that has been made over the last 10 years.’ The worry for Spurs fans is, that with everything included, which means transfers as well, Tottenham posted a pre-tax loss of £6.5 million.
You may be thinking that isn’t a great deal in modern day football, especially compared to the like of Manchester United and Liverpool who are in masses of debt. You’re right, it isn’t. But the one thing both clubs have relied on for years on end is the revenue brought in from Champions League football. With Champions League football comes more T.V revenue, a higher final league position bonus and, for Spurs, the guarantee of a sold out stadium.
To reach the dizzy heights of the Champions League, you have to of course speculate to accumulate, which is what Redknapp did. Spurs have one of the biggest squads in the league and fell just short of the type of reckless spending which saw Leeds fail in their chase of the dream. So, so far, so good. But what happens if Spurs fail to finish in the top four this season?
Income from T.V revenue and their final league position bonus will inevitably be less, so will match day gate receipts. Will the prospect of a Thursday night game against some Ukrainian minnows in the Europa League convince fans to head to White Hart Line? I wouldn’t of thought so, not after experiencing the likes of Inter Milan anyway.
If this scenario plays out, Tottenham could be forced to balance the books. It has been suggested that could be done as early as January, but injuries to Harry’s squad have stretched even his resources, so the ‘wheeling and dealing’ looks set to be kept to a minimum.
Redknapp has often suggested he is only ‘one of two players short of challenging for the title.’ Where this may be true, Tottenham have to decide whether to back Harry and continue to try and catch up with the likes of United, Chelsea and Arsenal, or to play safe; balance the books, secure the future but in return settle for always being just a Europa League side.
The problem with that is, in securing the long-term future, the here and now could become a worry. Gareth Bale is not going to settle for second-rate European competition, nor will Rafael Van Der Vaart, now he’s found some form.
Spurs have been left to count the cost of success. On and off the field they have had a taste of the high life, but the recent financial figures could scare them away from their gung-ho approach in realising the clubs potential.
Champions League football is a must, and talk of a new stadium needs to become a reality. Otherwise ‘appy ‘Arry may have to become content with being Tottenham’s ‘wheeler dealer’ once more.
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