Daniel Levy's genius has given Spurs a chance to finally rein in rivals Arsenal

The Weekend Dossier

Glenn Moore
Saturday 17 November 2012 01:00 GMT
(Getty Images)

Should Tottenham Hotspur win at the Emirates the visiting support ought to consider reworking one of their rivals' slogans and unveiling a banner in tribute to their chairman reading "Daniel knows".

Mr Levy is not universally popular within or without the club, few chairmen are, but the job he has done at White Hart Lane is remarkable.

Today Arsenal will bank around £5m in matchday income. When Spurs host the fixture in March they will take less than half that. Next week Arsenal play in the lucrative Champions League, as usual, while Spurs, as usual, compete in the much less rewarding Europa League.

These two factors, stadium earnings and (aside from Spurs' memorable 2010-11 Champions League campaign) contrasting European competition, are the reasons Arsenal ought to finish ahead of Tottenham this season, as they have done every year since 1995 – before Arsène Wenger arrived at Highbury.

Back then, there was little between the clubs financially. In 1995-96, Arsenal came fifth, averaged 37,578 at the gate, had a £21m turnover on which they made a £3.6m pre-tax loss after paying £10m in wages. Spurs were eighth, averaged 30,510, had a £27m turnover (from a 14-month accounting period) on which they made a £2.9m pre-tax profit after paying £11.4m in wages. At the time Alan Sugar, their chairman, raged at the rising wage bill.

That now seems a bygone age, when footballers only had one or two cars. Tottenham's latest accounts (2010-11) revealed a wage bill of £91m. But turnover was up to £163m enabling Levy to turn a £32m profit before spending £20m net on players. However, that included Champions League income. Spurs normally turn over around £120m. Arsenal's income since moving to the Emirates has averaged around £225m.

What is remarkable about Spurs is the cash Levy has made available to successive managers despite having the smallest stadium of the world's top 20 clubs (as ranked by Forbes). Since he became chairman in February 2001, his managers have spent a net £220m (£190m more than Wenger) despite Levy's preference for buying players with a view to their sell-on potential rather than those at the peak of their powers. Tottenham have also built a new training ground at a net cost, once the old one is sold, of approximately £30m. This should further enhance a youth development programme that, after years of failure, is now producing first-team players with graduates Jake Livermore and Steven Caulker capped by England this season. In addition, the club have found an estimated £80m-90m to purchase land and cover other expenses in preparation for the new stadium Tottenham need to compete with the best in the long-term.

The finance for these projects and transfer purchases has been realised through a combination of high ticket prices, wage restraint, hard bargaining in transfer negotiations and a good commercial performance. Levy has also used the prospect of moving to the Olympic Stadium, and the Tottenham riots, to leverage significant public grants to reduce the new stadium's expense.

Like Arsenal, Tottenham are well placed to meet the challenges of Uefa's Financial Fair Play (if it is ever applied in earnest) and any similar domestic controls (if they are ever agreed). However, like Arsenal, economic prudence has not been rewarded with silverware. Spurs have at least won a trophy in the past seven years, but the League Cup, in 2008, did not keep Juande Ramos in a job for long.

Arsenal have, of course, been constrained by the cost of building their own new stadium. Nevertheless, the huge income it brings, and Wenger's parsimony in the transfer market, has enabled them to outstrip Tottenham's wage bill by an average £40m each season. In football there is a very strong correlation between wages and finishing positions and it has applied in north London as much as anywhere. The last Spurs manager to finish above Arsenal was Gerry Francis. Then Wenger appeared. He has since seen off eight counterparts.

Spurs are, though, getting very close to bridging the gap, finishing one place behind Arsenal in five of the last seven seasons. They will kick off today a point ahead of the Gunners. Andre Villas-Boas' target, though, is not beating Arsenal, it is fourth place and reaching the Champions League. Asked this week if that was a realistic aim the manager, left, said: "We have to." To do so at Arsenal's expense, ending their unbroken 15- year run in the competition, would be sweet indeed for Chairman Levy.

Good neighbours: Spurs’ spending

* Net spending since Daniel Levy became chairman of Tottenham:

Arsenal season Tottenham

£21.5m 2001-02 £16.1m

-£0.1m 2002-03 £8.1m

£37.3m 2003-04 £24.6m

£7.1m 2004-05 £32.2m

£18.5m 2005-06 £12.2m

-£0.8m 2006-07 £19.7m

-£22.7m 2007-08 £62.7m

£12.6m 2008-09 £46.2m

-£31.5m 2009-10 £7.5m

£12.1m 2010-11 £20.4m

-£11.9m 2011-12 -£30.6m

-£11.9m 2012-13 £0.5m

£30.2m TOTAL £219.6m

Source: transfermarkt.co.uk

Five Asides

1. Fewer female managers but WSL is going the right way

Having built a backroom staff as extensive as many Football League clubs, Liverpool Ladies this week lured two well-known England internationals from Everton, Fara Williams and Natasha Dowie. Yesterday Lincoln Ladies, having moved manager Glen Harris sideways after coming fifth last year, enticed Keith Boanas from Estonia, where he had been national manager.

Some within the Football Association will be unhappy that, with Everton's Mo Marley stepping down, only two of the eight Womens Super League managers are female, but as the generation of Kelly Smith and Faye White move into coaching that will change. For now the FA will be pleased at how serious the fledgling competition has become. It is no longer enough just to take part.

2. Moyes loses the battle of the England lobbyists

Four outfielders played the full 90 minutes for Roy Hodgson in Sweden, one of the three Manchester United players who started, one of three Liverpool players who started, and both Leon Osman and Leighton Baines despite Everton playing 200 miles away from home today. Maybe David Moyes is not as scary as he looks

3. A record on crime that football can be proud of

To judge from some recent coverage football has again descended into the sewers. How pleasing, then, to note this week's Home Office figures which revealed one spectator in every 15,782 is arrested – that includes football-related arrests outside grounds as well as inside. Many are the city centres that would welcome such a low arrest rate of an evening.

4. York City only bettered by Ibrahimovic's magic

Performance of the week after Zlatan? York City who played with 10 men for 85 minutes at AFC Wimbledon on Monday and gave everything before losing 4-3. The Dons, though one man and two goals up with 10 minutes' extra time left, were reduced to wasting time by heading for the corner flag as York's veteran centre-halves Clarke Carlisle and Chris Smith sprinted forward to join every attack.

5. Can Northwich Victoria follow in AFC's footsteps?

Good luck to the supporters of Northwich Victoria, a grand old non-League name, whose Trust this week voted to set up a new club, à la AFC Wimbledon, in response to the club's decline and exile. As Kevin Rye of Supporters Direct told the meeting which voted for the move, a club is defined by its history not by its corporate status.


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