As Tottenham Hotspur progress through the summer transfer window, seemingly without intending to sign anyone, we’ve heard from a lot of voices. Fans, pundits, players, and even Mauricio Pochettino have all spoken up in defense of Spurs’ quiet window thus far.
But the one person we haven’t heard anything from until now has been arguably the most important person when it comes to Spurs’ transfer dealings: Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. Levy broke his silence on Tuesday in after opening the NASDAQ trading day in New York City, saying in the Guardian that Spurs have a philosophy when it comes to spending and transfers, that Spurs will not be sucked into the seemingly crazy transfer valuations, and that it’s all part of the plan.
“My view is that [the current transfer spending] is totally unsustainable. I’m not sure if that’s the view of the other Premier League clubs, but certainly the prices that are being paid for other Premier League players, I can’t see it being sustainable in the long term. We’ve managed the club, we think, in a very appropriate way.
“I think I am a custodian of this football club. This club has been around since 1882 and when I leave it will be somebody else. I think we have a duty to manage the club appropriately. I don’t think that long term for any club it’s sustainable to spend more than you earn. You can have periods where you do but over the long term you can’t.
“I think that some of the activity that’s going on at the moment is just impossible to be sustainable. If somebody is spending £200m more than they’re earning then eventually it catches up with you. You can’t keep doing it. We’ve invested a lot of money in physical facilities for long-term growth. So we’ve got one of the world’s best training facilities. We’ve invested over £100m in that facility.
The easy explanation for Spurs’ lack of transfer activity this summer is that they’re under austerity measures because they have a stadium to build and to pay for. That certainly was the excuse made by Arsenal just after they opened the Emirates and didn’t have the same about of cash to throw around that fans expected. But Levy says that’s not the case: careful planning went into the stadium construction, and the funding streams for stadium investment and club operations are kept separate. Moreover, the investments made in infrastructure are hugely helpful because it has allowed Spurs to develop the academy that is now producing first team players like Harry Kane and Harry Winks.
“We’re now investing in the stadium. The stadium is fundamental because with that we get more fans and more income and that’s the way to clearly have a more sustainable business. At the same time the academy is important because we can produce our own players. We don’t have to go and spend £20, £30m, £40m on a player and obviously that homegrown player has an affinity with the club that a player we buy doesn’t.
“That’s what the fans want to see. They want to have that passion. That’s what you get with a homegrown player and that’s why people love Harry Kane and sing that he’s one of our own.”
However, that’s going to do little to appease the more vocal segment of the Tottenham fanbase that is clamoring for players to improve the side. Levy is matter-of-fact about that too, saying that Spurs’ lack of transfer activity isn’t linked to the spending on the stadium — it’s just that the club hasn’t identified the right players yet.
“We have to find the right balance but I can honestly say it is not impacting us on transfer activity because we are not yet in a place where we have found a player that we want to buy who we cannot afford to buy.”
Levy is a chairman that has, to put it mildly, divided opinion. For every fan who sees the development of the club from a mid-table side to Premier League title contenders over the span of the past decade, there’s another that thinks that all Levy has to do is be looser with the purse strings and Spurs can ascend to the peak of Premier League glory.
I happen to think that Levy is right in this case. As CFC reader Willl laid out in a very impressive fanpost, Spurs are at a massive turning point financially that could see their incomes grow substantially over the next few years, money that can be reinvested into the club and that could increase player wages and transfer kitties. While Spurs’ lack of activity this far is frustrating, not getting sucked into the vortex of crazy money is indicative of financial prudence.
In short, through his excellent stewardship of the club thus far, Levy has earned our trust for the time being. That said, a signing or two wouldn’t be remiss as Spurs get ready to begin what promises to be another grueling league season.