Comment: Tottenham should sell Gareth Bale - the offer from Real Madrid will simply be too good to refuse
The player wants to go and for over £80m this could be a triumph of sorts for Daniel Levy
In the league table of football finances compiled by Deloitte for Europe’s leading clubs, Tottenham Hotspur were in at 13th place for the 2011-12 financial year, the last one on record, with an annual revenue of £178.2m. From there they looked down on the likes of Schalke, Napoli, Marseilles and Lyons but were a very long way from the elite at the summit of the game’s wealth.
Consider the breakdown of Spurs’ finances into the three fundamental areas of revenue: broadcasting earned them £76.1m, the commercial department £51.3m and match-day revenue, in the atmospheric, resolutely 20th-century White Hart Lane, a further £50.8m.
In short, the potential sale of Gareth Bale this summer for a transfer fee in excess of the world-record £80m would, at a stroke, earn Spurs more than they previously generated in any of their three main areas of business. There is no denying, even in football’s era of oligarchs and billionaire owners, that commanding more than £80m for a single player is an extraordinary deal.
Of course, Southampton would have to be paid their share under the compensation rules but it would be the ultimate trade for Daniel Levy who has had some good ones: Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric among them. He has pursued the buy-’em-young-and-cheap policy with such success that bigger clubs who find themselves with less clout in the market these days, like Manchester United, have followed suit.
Levy has been central to that. He will never push the club to challenge meaningfully at the very top of the Premier League, certainly not in their current stadium. They have qualified for the Champions League only once, although they were cruelly denied a second go at it by Chelsea last year. But Levy has stopped them being treated as a soft touch, in the way they were over Sol Campbell a dozen years ago.
Football – and the markets that drive it – evolves very quickly. Just because the stance that a club took with one player, at one particular time, was a success does not necessarily mean that it will be the right way to progress the next time. Levy’s firmness with Modric and Chelsea in 2011 was admirable, but it does not necessarily make it the right way to approach Bale and Madrid.
Madrid’s unimaginative, ostentatious attempts to buy success by harvesting the world’s best players is at times pathetic. There is a good case for saying Bale would be better served by going elsewhere – especially if he wants to win the Champions League. But the point is that the player wants to go and, on the condition that it is a world-record fee, this could be a triumph of sorts for Spurs.
Like Modric, this would be the second leading Spurs player to be sold out of the league rather than to a domestic rival. Few could have foreseen Bale’s progress, but Spurs kept faith and have a once-in-a-generation player, perhaps the greatest player the club has ever had.
This is the natural endgame. In modern football, players who have reached the level Bale has at 24 years old simply do not see out their careers at clubs with Spurs’ relatively modest ambitions. That is a pity and it diminishes the richness of the game, but it is simply the way things are. The next best thing for Spurs to having him play at White Hart Lane? Cashing in at the top of the biggest bull market football has ever known.
Latest in Sport
Petr Cech demands talks over Chelsea future as Thibaut Courtois begs him to stay – as mentor
Angel Di Maria: Manchester United to push ahead with £50m move for Real Madrid winger
Marcos Rojo to Manchester United: Sporting Lisbon confirm deal with Nani heading back to Portugal on loan
Sami Khedira to Arsenal: Midfield omitted from Real Madrid squad for Spanish Super Cup
David Gold furious after Carlton Cole parody account mocks up a picture of West Ham chairman as a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 4 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head