Why This Summer Could Be Make or Break for Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Daniel Levy

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After guiding Tottenham Hotspur to their third consecutive finish inside the Premier League‘s top three on the final day of the 2017/18 season, manager Mauricio Pochettino spoke candidly of the club’s need to ‘be brave’ and address whatever gaps needed filling in the side.

“I have very clear ideas of what we need to do,” Pochettino said. “I don’t know if the club will agree with me or not. We are going to talk next week to create the new project. It is a little bit up to Daniel and the club to agree with us.”

The Daniel referred to by Pochettino is, of course, none other than Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. A University of Cambridge graduate, Levy has earned a well-deserved reputation for being one of football’s most ruthless negotiators since becoming chairman of the club in 2001.

Time and time again, Levy has displayed an almost predatory instinct for finance and negotiating by achieving outrageous transfer deals for his club. Tottenham’s current squad cost £358m to put together – considerably less than rivals ChelseaManchester United and Liverpool, while even Everton‘s misfiring squad cost more in total.

The list of bargain deals negotiated by Levy is endless. Hugo Lloris for £11.9m, Christian Eriksen for £11m, Dele Alli for £5m – many of Spurs’ key players were signed for an absolute pittance, with their value skyrocketing in the subsequent years.

Levy’s ability to sign players cheap, increase their value and sell for a massively inflated price, before replacing them with slight upgrades, has created a sustainable business model which has transformed Spurs from mid-table nobodies to one of the Premier League’s big boys in less than two decades.

Where other clubs such as Everton and Aston Villa have come close to breaking the dominance of the league’s giants only to fall away, Spurs have managed to cement themselves in the new ‘big six’ – while spending considerably less than any of their closest competitors in the process.

With a squad full of exciting players, a world-renowned young manager and a new stadium to look forward to, the stage appears to be set for Spurs to firmly establish themselves as one of Europe’s top clubs and take the next leap in their development – the leap that secures them that long-awaited trophy.

So why then does the mood around the club feel so unshakably grim?

With just 15 days left until the transfer window shuts, Spurs are yet to buy or sell a single first-team player. While Liverpool have backed Jurgen Klopp to sign seemingly any player he chooses and Manchester City pay £60m for Riyad Mahrez to warm their subs’ bench, Spurs have remained completely inactive, with Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish the only tangible transfer link to speak of.

Spurs’ failure to complete their transfer business and strengthen in order to keep up with their rivals has sent the club’s supporters into an almost rabid frenzy as they wait on tenterhooks for any news of a potential signing, only to be rewarded with total silence from the club.

As another day passes with no news of incoming players, so too does another synapse snap in the brain of every Spurs fan, with the club’s anti-Levy contingent growing more vocal and insatiable by the hour.

This so-called ‘Levy Out’ brigade believe the chairman should be held personally responsible for the club’s failure to sign players, blaming his perceived insistence on securing bargains rather than keeping up with the growing inflation of the transfer market.

Given that the club is currently enjoying its most successful period in at least thirty years, the idea that Levy is ‘holding the club back’ seems a little misguided – however, it is easy to understand the frustration of this group of supporters.

The majority of season tickets at Spurs’ new stadium will set customers back about a grand, with the most expensive tickets going for an eye-watering £2,200 – the most costly tickets of any stadium in the country.

With prices going up and the club securing more and more sources of income through sponsorship deals and partnerships such as the arrangement to play NFL games at the new stadium, Spurs fans can be forgiven for wondering why more of this money is not being injected directly into the club in the form of signings.

Many believe that Levy is simply lining his own pockets, or else fattening up the club in order to sell it on for maximum value. However, given the astronomical success Spurs have seen under Levy’s financial model for the club, perhaps fans would be better off withholding their judgement until we see how this window and the upcoming season pan out?

Though Levy has surely done enough for Spurs to earn the trust of most supporters, this season has an increasingly make-or-break feeling to it that simply will not go away.

Spurs are on the precipice of greatness, with the potential to challenge for the league title over the next few seasons provided the club is managed properly.

If the club falls away from the main pack this year, it is likely that Levy will be held directly responsible for this failure. With even his manager demanding that money be spent, Levy has opted to keep a tight grip on the purse strings and not be drawn into spending the silly money this transfer market now demands.

The worry for Spurs is that failure to challenge in the league this season will lead to the departure of key players and staff. The likes of Eriksen, Alli and of course Harry Kane may have come cheap, but they are now world-class talents who deserve success and may seek greater assurance of the ambition to achieve this.

Daniel Levy is a financial genius who has taken Spurs further than anyone could have dreamed of. However, football has changed a lot since 2001 and in the current market, you can only get so far without spending money. Levy’s approach hasn’t let Spurs down yet, but the 56-year-old will need this gamble to pay off in order to keep his project alive.

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