Today, Deloitte released their annual Football Money League report. Most commentators will focus on Barcelona’s rise to becoming the first club to eclipse €800m in annual revenue, their first time on top, but most readers here will be excited for different reasons.
Tottenham Hotspur, our beloved club, continued their meteoric financial rise to post an annual profit of €521.1m in the 2018/19 season. This is notable for several reasons. First, Tottenham have announced consecutive revenue increases of at least €68m in three seasons now. In 2015/16, as Spurs’ improbable title chase began, the club’s revenue sat at a mere €280m. At the conclusion of last season, it has nearly doubled to €521m. That increase of €241m is the biggest increase in real or relative terms of any club in the world since 2016. With that in mind, this report finally captures the rise that Daniel Levy has charted for the club a decade ago when he finalized the stadium and training ground plans.
But most notably, the report also captures that Tottenham, a club perpetually in the shadow of it’s giant London neighbours, Arsenal and Chelsea, has in fact surpassed both of these two clubs in annual revenue. It was not that long ago that I looked at Tottenham’s financial status in comparison to its rivals, but even then in 2017, it was hard to fathom that Tottenham would just two years later become the richest club in London, and the fourth richest in the Premier League. Tottenham’s 2018/19 revenue of €521.1m narrowly surpassed Chelsea’s revenue of €513.1m, and vastly surpassed Arsenal’s revenue €445.6m. In fact, the gap between petro-state backed Manchester City and Tottenham (€89.5m) is nearly the same as the gap between Tottenham and Arsenal (€75.5m).
The good news does not end there. While Tottenham’s revenue is supported by their Champions’ League Final appearance, and the €101.6m windfall that came with it, Tottenham’s revenue will not drop considerably even the desperate times that have been the 2019/20 season. Spurs have already earned €58m before their upcoming clash with Red Bull Leipzig in the Round of 16. What already feels like a lifetime ago, Tottenham did not finally enter their glittering new stadium until 3 April, forcing the club to play nearly twenty games at Wembley in the 2018/19 season. This season, Spurs will have played their entire season in the new stadium, which will yield significantly higher matchday income, which would offset any drops in Champions League revenue, assuming we do not repeat in the Final. And this does not even touch upon the other elephant in the room: the stadium naming rights deal, in which Daniel Levy is still seeking a £400m deal, apparently to little interest.
Still, considerable questions remain that are not captured in Deloitte’s report. Firstly, the question of how this revenue is spent is left entirely unresolved. Tottenham have been historically stingy in paying their players a share of the club’s revenue, instead investing global record profits back into physical infrastructure, like the new stadium and training ground. This past summer’s outlay of around €100m in net spending could signal a shift player trading, or it could just be making up for the previous 18 months of inactivity; that remains to be seen. Jose Mourinho, for the moment, appears to be towing the long-standing Spurs mantra of being a club with a shoestring budget. That sentiment, though, may no longer remain credible as Spurs’ financial rise has seen them not only match but surpass their rivals.
In addition, Deloitte’s report two years from now in 2022 will be a lot more interesting, as this report would capture the consequences of Spurs’ current fall in form that they are currently experiencing (i.e. a potential loss of Champions League revenue in the 2020/21 season). But even in a scenario in which Arsenal somehow miraculously qualify this year and Spurs miss out, the gap would still be too vast for Arsenal to reassert themselves as the financial giants of North London.
So for now, let’s bask in some momentary good news, and remind Arsenal to mind that other gap!