Tottenham Hotspur is a well-run football club. The solidity of their finances is a source of pride for the supporters. They hold a position at the business end of the Premiership and have done so without racking up mountains of debt. However, they may have reached a fork in the road. In order to continue progressing, or even to keep up with the clubs around them, they may be forced to seriously loosen their rigid wage structure.
The question of whether Spurs should discard their current successful system is a balancing act between footballing ambition and financial risk.
Abandoning the wage structure would allow Spurs to compete with the top clubs for the best players. There are suggestions that they have already considered this. The club’s top earners Modric, Bale and King are on around £70,000 a week, however no serious attempts could have been made to sign Sergio Aguero in January without leaping towards the £100,000 per week marker. £70,000 won’t bag you a star in their prime nowadays. When Spurs become linked with a world-class player, the first question raised is will the club be able to meet his wage demands.
The wage structure is also becoming restrictive in the retention of the best players. £70,000 a week will keep your players happy for a while if you get them young but it won’t keep them forever.
If Tottenham loosen the structure, they’ll be able to attract a higher calibre of player capable of bringing them more seriously into the crush at the top of the table. They can satisfy the ambitions of the club’s best players and their seemingly insatiable appetite for more money. There is a genuine risk that without this increased spending, the team may stagnate or even go backwards as players are lured away. It would be a great shame if the 2011 Champions League run is the pinnacle of this Tottenham side’s achievements.
The cons of abandoning Levy’s safe and working business model can be seen throughout English football. Spurs would be faced with a rapidly escalating wage bill. The arrival of a couple of £100,000 a week stars would undoubtedly have a knock on effect on the wages of others at the club whether through highest earning clauses or renegotiated contracts. Nobody wants to see a situation like that at Newcastle 2 years ago, a squad bulging with £50,000 plus a week earners, with no love for the club, heading for relegation.
Without the guarantee of Champions league football, it is a huge and reckless gamble to drastically up the club’s spending. The top English clubs are in eye-watering amounts of debt and Spurs have done fantastically well thus far to compete without being sucked in. The club is safe and could even maybe spend a little more without pushing itself into a position of boom or bust. Daniel Levy has run Spurs incredibly carefully up until now, it would be foolish of him to risk everything for short term success.
So what should Tottenham do? Is this the most competitive they can be without plunging into an abyss of debt? I believe that Spurs should continue to keep it tight, keep buying young players if they have too, but keep getting the best they can afford. Spurs can get stars without breaking the bank, it just takes a lot longer. Levy runs a tight ship and I still believe he can take it forward without sinking it.
It’s a great shame that £70,000 a week can’t get you the players you need but it’s good to see Tottenham attempting to climb the right way.