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Daniel Levy: player transfers unaffected by stadium refinance

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There’s a bit to unwrap here.

Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur’s brand new stadium is a marvel to see. It’s arguably the best stadium in world football, equipped to handle not just EPL matches but NFL games, rugby and concerts. Our bald ninja Jedi, Daniel Levy, spent what had to be a ton of sleepless nights planning this entire project for years. To see it come to fruition meant he might actually sleep in for once in his life.

The entire project cost the club £1.2 billion, with a reported £637 million of that covered by loans from HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. The debt that these loans covered were set for a full repayment date of April 2022, which has led some to fret that repayment of the loans over time would lead to financial austerity such as what was seen by Arsenal after they finished the Emirates. But as James Ollie of the Standard reports, there was a plan all along and Daniel Levy has insisted that the refinance will not alter transfer business.

“[The refinancing] will have no ­bearing on how we run the club… and no bearing on those types of short-term movements [like transfers].

“We could easily have spent more money on players. Who knows if that would have brought us more success or not? The right approach is to build from the bottom up. There is no quick fix to becoming a much more significant global club.

We have to take Levy at face value on this, mainly because he’s a hell of a lot smarter at running a football club than any of us. ENIC has had a plan ever since taking over the club in 2001, and the result has been a club known as a “cup team” transforming into a perennial Champions League participant. It took a long time to get there, but ENIC is seeing the fruits of its labor. As for the stadium, here’s the important part of the article:

Spurs were originally due to pay back loans totalling that amount by April 2022 but have spent the past few months converting that debt into bonds to stagger the payments. The club have raised £525m of finance after securing a variety of deals with an average maturity period of 23 years and an interest rate of 2.66 per cent.

Tottenham moved into their new stadium in April, towards the end of a season in which they did not spend any money on transfers, yet still secured a top-four finish and reached the Champions League Final.

This summer saw them spend around £120m net on players and Levy insists the refinancing will help them operate along similar lines as they balance longer-term debt with the freedom of no longer having to meet the 2022 deadline for repayment.

The stadium’s debts has always been a difficult topic to break down, so that excerpt helps explain what the club is doing to handle the debt. By staggering the payments, it will mean paying more money down the road in interest, but it allows the club to operate in a fairly regular way and not being shackled by massive payments in the next three years. The interest rates on the refinance are at a ridiculously low 2.66%, which is barely above current inflation. That means less money to bankers over a longer period of time.

Tottenham are expected to increase their stadium revenue substantially with the new stadium, with figures being as high as £110 million over the course of a season being reported. That’s on par with clubs such as Manchester United. We can make all the “cheese room” jokes we want, but the inclusion of these world class facilities catering to corporate sponsors was done for a reason. Eventually, Levy will find a perfect suitor for the stadium naming rights, which he values at around £400m over the course of a potential deal.

All in all, this is great news for the club. The low interest rates and the conversion of the majority of the debt to bonds will help ensure that Spurs have a safety net in place in the event they don’t qualify for the Champions League at some point in the coming years.

Levy is a clever businessman, but it always helps to look at other projects and how to improve upon them. One of the biggest things that hurt Arsenal when they built their stadium was the debt that they incurred, which crippled them in the transfer market. Their stadium debt was around £400m, and looking at the players they bought from 2004 on? It’s easy to see that they were reluctant on splashing a huge amount of money. Of course, the transfer window was a far different beast at the time. The world record transfer at the time was Zinedine Zidane’s move to Real Madrid for £46m, and that happened in 2001. The four seasons after the Emirates Stadium opened up, Arsenal only spent £10m+ on a player twice: Aleksandr Hleb (£13.5m) and Eduardo (£12.15m). At the time, Tottenham were nowhere near the Champions League picture and Manchester City hadn’t burst onto the scene yet, so finishing in the Top 4 was almost a foregone conclusion and they could count on that extra cash year in and year out.

Adding it all up, the fact of the matter is that Tottenham Hotspur are in fantastic financial shape and the best days may yet to be seen. We have a stadium that is the envy of the football world, a squad that can compete with the best in Europe and strong leadership where it counts. I know the #ENICOUT and #LEVYOUT crowd will never stop shouting from the hilltops, but those voices have been a lot quieter for a reason: Levy knows what he’s doing.