We don't know much about Cain Hoy. They emerged swiftly out of the darkness like a shark sniffing around a coral reef, murmuring things about "takeovers" and "bids," and upsetting the finely-balanced humors of the Tottenham fan base. Their arrival sparked a wide range of emotions, from jubilation to near panic, and just about everything in between. After rounding the reef a few times, they ultimately glided back into the abyss without doing any damage, leaving behind a lot of rustled jimmies and even more questions.
And now that the waters have stopped swirling a bit, I can't help but feel just a little bit disappointed.
I'm one of those Tottenham fans who supports our current ownership. By whatever metric you wish to use, it's clear to me that Joe Lewis and ENIC have done right by Tottenham, taking Spurs from a mid-table club to one in contention for Champions League football almost every season. Revenues and fortunes have increased, and despite a constantly changing financial landscape and increased competition, Spurs are always at minimum relevant when it comes to Champions League qualification. The club is well-loved, well-run, and well-supported by its owners and fans. That in itself is remarkable, and we should thank ENIC for it.
ENIC's business plan for growing Tottenham Hotspur is not complicated, nor is it difficult to understand: make smart, undervalued purchases, invest wisely, don't spend more than your means, and work towards purchasing a larger stadium which will increase exposure and revenues. It's a solid plan - Arsenal did it quite successfully.
The problem is that it takes time. Usually a lot of it. That's why when Cain Hoy started sniffing around, the thought of new ownership made my ears prick up.
The reality of Spurs' financial situation is that until the new stadium is built (and paid for), forward progress is probably going to be glacial. In our current financial situation, we've essentially reached our ceiling. We're like Sisyphus pushing that damned boulder up the hill - it's slow, grinding, incremental progress, and we advance only through massive effort and with quite a few slips. We've nearly gotten there: we had Champions League in 2010, and should've had it in 2012 before Chelsea won the whole thing. We're desperately trying to build a new stadium, but we've been trying for seven years and it still feels in some ways as far from reality as it did in 2007.
Such are the perils of running a club, as we love to proclaim, "the right way": fiscally solvent, hierarchically solid. We balance our budget every month, but it means we usually don't get the hot new sports car or the shiny new iPhone model when it comes out.
This is why the decision by Cain Hoy to not make an offer to purchase Tottenham Hotspur is a bit of a disappointment to me. We don't know the reasons behind their decision, and may never find out. What a bid by Cain Hoy suggested – and I say suggested and not promised – is an accelerated timetable, an extra push that will help Spurs compete with the elite EPL clubs in the short term, while the stadium financials and future revenues settle out in the medium to long term.
Of course, we don't really know what kind of owners Cain Hoy would've been, which makes this more of an intellectual exercise. I don't pretend to know or even believe that Cain Hoy would've been our sugar daddy, flooding the club with cash. And yet the possibility of new ownership offers a tantalizing glimpse into something exciting, different, and hopefully more.
With clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal all outspending Spurs by factors in the transfer window and with owners that are willing to open the pocketbooks a little wider than Joe Lewis, competition is fiercer than ever. As a fan, I see this happening around us, and even though the club improves every year it still feels as though we are being left behind.
Joe Lewis WILL sell Tottenham Hotspur eventually. We don't know when, and we don't know to who, but when someone meets his valuation the club will be sold. In many ways that's a frightening enough prospect. There's danger in the unknown, and there's nothing more unknowable than new owners. Even those who have been beating the ENIC OUT drum must know this at least subliminally: the devil you know, and all that.
Despite the potential catastrophic pitfalls inherent to new ownership, for me a bid from Cain Hoy offered at least a glimpse of another way - a way to take a larger step towards glory while still maintaining financial solvency. A chance to get those two or three extra players that perhaps never would've considered Spurs before. A chance to finally push that boulder over the top of the hill. Even if it all goes pear-shaped, it's that possibilty of a bright future under new hands (with lots of money) that I found so tantalizing. Until the next owner of Tottenham Hotspur comes along, I'll need to hold onto that feeling, and remember that we're still on the right path, even if it is the longer one.