The Problem At White Hart Lane

There has been a lot made about the lack of transfer activity during the past three windows for Tottenham.  During two of them, they had the draw of the Champions League to lure in players, yet still didn’t pull the trigger on many deals.

It’s easy to forget, but the mood within the corps of Tottenham supporters last year was just as sullen as this year, until the last second signing of Rafael van der Vaart  Other than the Dutchman, last summer only saw the addition of Sandro and William Gallas.

Come January, Spurs are the hit of Europe and within striking distance of third and even possibly second place.  So they needed a forward to make up for the lack of goals from the front.   While stories abounded of Daniel Levy carrying a wheelbarrow of money around Spain begging for teams to part with anybody, it never really happened.  And it never was really true.  Generated by twitter, that story belays the fact that other than a few queries at the last moment, the club didn’t pursue forwards as much as commonly accepted.

And now we see the end of another silly season and Tottenham bought only Parker and loaned Adebayor, but also sold nearly £30 million worth of players.

Spurs supporters are livid with the current state of affairs.  Levy gets blamed the most and is envisioned to be sitting in a pool of money writing sonnets about his hatred of the club he owns.  Some claim he is holding back money for a new manager.  Harry looks perpetually grumpy because he is actually forced to abide by economics for the first time in his career.  Using the media, he gets fans on his side and even more of them join in condemning the diminutive chairman.

Are they right?  The club have spent just £25 million in transfer fees in the past three windows and have London prices for home matches, EPL television revenue and a huge payoff from last year’s enjoyable run in the Champions League.   Where is all of that money?

Well, it’s very simple and it’s the secret that nobody wants to discuss.  Harry Redknapp can’t sell players.  And when he does, it’s usually at a loss.

The fact of the matter is that Tottenham, despite the misconception that they are big spenders in the market, are run very reasonably.  A wage structure that keeps them below 50% of revenues means they cannot afford anybody over £80,000 a week.   Before the owners got smart, West Ham, Aston Villa and Newcastle easily outspent Tottenham on wages.  And as for transfers, despite the numbers that show Tottenham are the 4th highest spenders since the EPL started, during the Levy era,  the club’s net spending has always been reasonable.  Yes the team has spent a lot of money, but they have always offset at least 60% of that with sales. Between 2003-2011, Tottenham spent £300 million on transfers, but they sold £190 million.  This is roughly £14 million per year.  That meets expectations for a club of their size in this league.

So how have things changed since Harry took over?  The sales dried up.  Take away last night’s £21 million bonanza for Hutton, Crouch and Palacios; and Harry, in the five windows he’s been in charge had sold only £34.5 million in players (most of that was the £18 million for Bent and Zokora).  How much had he spent?  Well going into yesterday, the number was a staggering £99 million.  He had net spent £65 million.  But that’s not the entire story.

Harry started his sells well enough, by making a profit on £8.6 million Didier Zokora (£1.4 million profit).  After that, he lost money on every sale at the club until Peter Crouch made him £500k late last night.   Having negated the Robbie Keane deal, he bought him back for £12 million and sold him on for £2.5 million – losing the club nearly £10 million.  He bought and sold Pascal Chimbonda within six months and lost a million doing so.  He couldn’t find takers for Ricardo Rocha or Gilberto so they left on free.  Darren Bent was bought for £16 million and sold for £10* million based on comments by Harry to the press comparing the striker to his wife.  During his short time at the club, his profit/loss on players he moved out of the club is a staggering £30 million in loses.  That’s right! He has lost £30 million on players.  Granted Damien Comolli deserves credit for some of that, but he was able to sell his own trash before the Harry era.

*A sell on clause  eventually saw all money recouped by the club.  Harry gets full credit on all transfers, but sell-on clauses are done by John Alexander, club secretary, and Daniel Levy.

Last night, Tottenham made £21 million on three players; however, that equated to a loss of £8.5 million.   Hutton and Palacios had been bought for £20 million but were sold for £11 million.

Players sometimes lose money, but for Tottenham that was rare before Harry.  They made money on Tommy  Forecast and Calum Davenport.  Do you know who they are?  I don’t.   That’s not to mention the large profits on Carrick, Berbatov and Keane (pre-Harry).

So Harry came in and spent a large sum of money.  Subsequently he has done little to replenish the coffers.  And when he has sold, it has been at a loss all but twice.

This is why Spurs have become one of the quietest teams in the EPL during the silly season.  With the £21 million just added, despite the loss, they are starting to get closer to normalcy and by January, we should see some activity.  There is a roster spot with Leandro’s name written all over it.

But in the meantime, Levy and Harry, hamstrung by a lack of sales used the loan market and free transfers to make the team better.  The story nobody talks about is how well they have done by getting Adebayor, Gallas. Friedel, Ceballos and Falque for NO  money.   That’s a great defender, a proven Prem forward, one of the best goalkeepers of the past 10 years and two La Mesia products for less that a cup of joe. That’s brilliant!

Note: I used for my main source for numbers.  I won’t claim they are perfect, but they are close.  For example, there is no data on Coulibaly, but he cost £2 million.

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  1. Raul September 1, 2011
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  4. DoublePivot September 1, 2011
    • Raul September 1, 2011
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    • jmitch September 1, 2011
      • canyid September 2, 2011
        • trickybrkn September 2, 2011
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  12. SpursFan2011 September 3, 2011
    • DoublePivot September 5, 2011
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