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The death and birth of Tottenham Hotspur: Chapter IV

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FC Hotspur of Tottenham rises while Donald Trump's wildest dreams come true.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

"By a vote of 4-3, the New Oakland Coliseum funding bill is defeated."

"The NFL owners have voted to block the Oakland Raiders' proposed move to Los Angeles."

"It is with a heavy heart that the Davis family has decided to pursue the sale of the Oakland Raiders. After more than 50 years of involvement with the franchise, it has become clear that there is no longer a viable solution for keeping the team in California. We're sorry we couldn't do more for the greatest fans in the world, but local government and the NFL have put us in an impossible position. We have no choice but to sell the team and hope new owners can deliver a more promising future for Raider Nation."

★★★

May 2017

"There's only one Ryan Mason! One Ryan Mason! Oooooooooone Ryan Masoooooooooon!"

He sprung forward and went for goal when his team really needed him, but Ryan Mason knew that FC Hotspur of Tottenham was better off with him sitting deep, circulating possession. They had no problem dominating the Hellenic Premier Division, one of many leagues that made up England's 9th tier, but tougher competition awaited. Many of the top players in this squad would go on to compete in the 6th and 7th divisions, where there were former top pros having a blast playing at a relatively high level in their spare time and teenagers that would go on to play starring roles in the Football League. He needed to help the other players help themselves.

Even so, Mason was unstoppable at this level. Last season, he set an all-time record for combined goals and assists a player in any 10th tier league. This season, he'd set the same record in the 9th division. This was all too easy for him, and it didn't hurt that he had relatively high-quality teammates to play with.

FCHT were an easy sell for players who were on the fringes of the 7th division, but not being offered professional contracts. The Ryman League offered higher visibility than most other non-League opportunities, but tons of eyes were on an upstart club in the N17 that featured a 25-year-old former Premier League starter and the backstory that FCHT had.

"He knew that Tottenham were a farce! Doo-dah! Doo-dah! Trump can stick them up his arse! Doo-dah doo-dah day!"

fcht

The club was founded with Mason and Ledley King taking up ownership stakes of just under 25 percent each, while the supporters owned 51 percent. While King and local businessmen interested in the project attempted to secure a plot of land in N17 to build their own ground on, FC Hotspur of Tottenham rented the ground of 6th division side Bishop's Stortford, north of London.

While a loyal gang of 3,000 or so fans showed up to their games and cheered them on -- an absolutely absurd crowd for a 9th division team -- most long-time Tottenham Hotspur supporters continued to go to White Hart Lane or catch Spurs' games on illegal streams. The club hadn't yet won a trophy under the new Koch-Trump regime and wouldn't this season, but they'd enjoyed their biggest period of success since Glenn Hoddle played for the side. They were about to better last season's 4th place finish by one spot, meaning they'd avoid the Champions League playoff, which they narrowly scraped through. They'd made an FA Cup semifinal and the Champions League Round of 16 in addition to that league finish, so most Spurs fans were accepting of the enhanced commercialism that went along with those triumphs. There were sponsors everywhere and higher ticket prices, yes, but unlike the Daniel Levy years, it was helping the team earn accolades on the pitch.

It also helped that the high ticket prices wouldn't be in place forever. The 2016-17 campaign was Spurs' last at their old ground, with the brand new StubHub Stadium At White Hart Lane set to open for the start of the 2017-18 season. The new expanded capacity ground would feature tickets that were 5 percent cheaper across the board for its opening season.

"Everyone but Mason is a money-grubbing c--t! A money-grubbing c--t! A money-grubbing c--t!"

Mason, a local lad and lifelong fan of Tottenham Hotspur, wasn't concerned with his lost earnings. He lived in a modest apartment close to the pitch that FCHT rented for training sessions and knew that his investment in the new community club would pay off eventually. Owning and playing for FC Hotspur would never make him rich, but he knew that once the new ground was finished and the club made it to the professional ranks, he could make a living. And if he could be involved with a community club that he cared about while getting his most basic needs met, he didn't need anything more.

"FC HOTSPUR GOAL SCORED BY NO. 8, CYRUS YEGANEH! ASSISTED BY..."

The PA announcer paused to let the crowd do the rest.

"RYAN MASON! RYAN MASON! RYAN MASON!"

FCHT defeated Penn & Tylers Green 4-0 on the final day of the season, a month after comfortably getting themselves promoted to the Isthmian League Division One North, in the 8th tier of English football.

★★★

"Roger, tell me you have good news," blurted Donald Trump, excitedly word-vomiting into his phone. Once he saw the name on the caller ID, he rushed to pick it up before the first ring finished.

"Your patience is about to pay off. Our plan has come to fruition. It's time," said Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League.

"How much?"

"Do you care? Do you really care how much?"

Trump did not care how much.

"When can we finalize it?"

"Fly to San Francisco tonight and I promise you we'll get it done. Mark and his family are ready. They just want to cash out."

"Fantastic. I'll tell Charles and David. They'll be thrilled."

"Hey Don ... how do you think the fans of that little soccer club of yours are going to take this?"

Trump was surprised Goodell even asked.

"Do you think I give a s--t? You're the NFL and our minority partners are the biggest celebrities in the world. We'll find some new f--king fans."

Goodell let out a hearty belly laugh, for presumably the second time in his life, with the first being the time he found out the retired players suing the league over injuries sustained while playing in the NFL agreed to settle for a ludicrously paltry sum of money.

"No, I can't imagine you do. Welcome to the club, Don."

★★★

And so, on Monday, May 29, 2017, Roger Goodell stood on a stage in front of the nearly completed StubHub Stadium At White Hart Lane alongside Donald Trump, Justin Bieber, Zayn Malik, Aubrey Graham, head coach Josh McDaniels and quarterback Derek Carr. He announced to the world that the Oakland Raiders, who had been sold to the Koch-Trump group two weeks earlier, would be moved to London and rebranded.

In the press conference held in front of local citizens and media, Goodell was careful to refer to the team as Tottenham Hotspur Gridiron Football Club. But when the American television cameras flipped on, he introduced the new team as the London Spurs, much to the shock of everyone in attendance.

Long-time fans and season ticket holders could hardly process the news. It couldn't have been more sudden to them, but Goodell, the Koch brothers and Trump envisioned this day from the moment they heard that a Premier League club in London was up for sale. This was their way into the international sporting market.

Supporters had no idea what the future held; all they knew is that their beloved club would never be the same again. This was a definitive turning point. Hundreds of thousands would continue to support Trump's evolving conglomerate, but Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, as they knew it, was dead.

carr

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