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Would foreign investment be a good thing for Spurs?

Since the NDP plans were announced, To the Lane and Back have been unbelieveabely excited about the prospect of a new stadium. Yes, we do love White Hart Lane with an undying passion but, in order to make the leap onto the next level, the club needs to take full advantage of their superb fan-base. With that in mind, it seems highly unlikely that any further action will be taken unless more funds are pumped into the club. Therefore, we have taken the opportunity to wonder if foreign investment would be the right route to take in the foreseeabale future…

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It is looking more and more likely that Tottenham are going to become privatised once again in the foreseeable future. Having floated on the AIM Stock Market for the best part of a decade, the latest revenue figures make for interesting reading for all those affiliated with the club.

£120m, a £6m increase from the previous figures, a majority of which came through ticket sales alone, means, financially, Spurs are heading in the right direction. But could it be even better? Taking Spurs off the stock market is a risky ploy by Enic, the clubs holding company. But with a new stadium hoping to be built adjacent to White Hart Lane, at least £400m needs to be raised to make the prospect of the 60,000+ seater stadium a reality rather than just a dream.

Chelsea and Manchester City are two teams that have benefited substantially under foreign investment, the former now a consistent title contender while the latter currently leading the way in this year’s Premiership. The problem, however, lies outside the comfort zone of one’s own club. Chelsea and City fans may be ecstatic by the accolades they have picked up since their respective takeovers but, teams around either look on in envy or, rather than be considered a football club, many now believe the two teams to be a business or a “project” rather than the historic roots of any club. 

It is this approach that has seen football heavily criticised by turning from a sport to a business venture by those who see any team as a way to make a quick buck. It is a worrying trait that many teams have been taking in recent years. City used to be a team fans could relate to, the hard working club that were in the shadows of their illustrious neighbours, the passion breathed through the fans and a win, home or away, would be cherished for years to come. Now, they are seen as a rich man’s play thing, someone who has no interest in the results on the pitch, but rather the figures off it. 

Which is why, as any Spurs fan will testify, supporting a team that is run successfully off the pitch, without billions pumped in by oil barons or Arab princes, while playing a successful, attractive style of football that currently sees them lay in fifth place, is the ideal way to run a football club. Spending only £5m over the summer while cutting the wage bill and squad numbers is dwarfed by the money the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, City, Liverpool and even Arsenal have spent to bring success to their respective stadia.

More amazing still, is that all five of Tottenham’s top six rivals currently rely on the money pumped in by foreign investors to ‘buy’ success. Just imagine if Harry Redknapp had similar resources available to him? With the limited funds available to him, evidenced by the lack of incomings this summer, it was the case of quality rather than quantity for the Spurs boss the previous transfer window. Can the same be said about the aforementioned quintet? And, at such a low cost? Very debateable.

But, imagine the possibilities if any manager had the financial backing that, for example, Roberto Mancini has at Manchester City? Having played just 10 games prior to the home game against Aston Villa tomorrow evening, the North London giants currently sit pretty in fifth, three points behind Newcastle in third and two games in hand over the high flying Magpies. A tremendous achievement for Redknapp and co. considering the only senior arrivals over the summer were Scott Parker, Brad Friedel, Yago Falque and Emmanuel Adebayor, the latter duo only on loan.

It is the aforementioned financial backing that appears to be holding Spurs back. Redknapp has already admitted the club cannot compete with the Premiership’s wealthier sides and any offer than is made, both in terms of transfer fees and wages would be ‘blown out of the water’. This is where foreign investment would aid the clubs transition from good to great. With an already growing fan base, recognition around the world, a solid financial background and plans for a new stadium already underway. Spurs, along with perhaps Everton, are two teams that would make for an attractive proposition to any potential owner.

But, do Spurs fans really want to be taken over? Well, it’s a yes and a no. Granted, the money that could be pumped into the club could lead to more trophies and the long-term stability could well be secured. On top of that, the increase of world class players and the potential to really get the Northumberland Development Project up and running may be too good for even the sternest of Spurs fans to turn down.

On the other hand, the club are very much a traditional one and, barring the uncertain times under Irving Scholar’s ownership in the mid-80’s to early-90’s, tend to have been run exceptionally off the pitch, especially under Daniel Levy and Enic. But, with the economy uncertain, plans to re-develop the area adjacent to White Hart Lane have taken somewhat of a back-burner. Applications to move to the Olympic stadium fell on deaf ears and after a number of court appearances, the OPLC opted to keep the stadium in public ownership, leasing out the property for £2m per year.

On paper, the chance to move into a ready-built stadium was a brilliant idea. But, moving out of Tottenham and into Stratford didn’t appease any Spurs fan and, fortunately, West Ham United were the initial preferred bidder. The money generated from foreign investment can go a long way to securing mass success for the club, just look at the achievements Chelsea made when Roman Abramovich took over while City currently occupy first spot by five points.

It is a conflict of interests the splits opinion right down to the wire. Foreign ownership does have its pros but, are they outweighed by the cons? 

Ben McAleer

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