With football, a look behind the story can often reval interesting details.




By Tony Attwood

OK this is another article about Tottenham, and we have had quite a few.  Cue comments from any Tottenham supporters that stray here that I am fixated on the club.

But what fascinates rather than fixates me is the PR campaign that the club is running, and why it is so successful.  

The campaign is based on the concept that the club is doing well financially and on the pitch – and improving.  I question the financial issue because everything I see is based on one financial metric – the increase in revenue from the new stadium.  There is little data that I have found on who is paying for the stadium and how, and yet someone has to be.

I have read the claim that the owner of the club is paying for it and not charging Tottenham, but if that is so, the club has to pay more tax because it is making more profit.  Meanwhile the owner pays tax on the income he would have got (in business you simply cannot just say “I’m not charging them” and have no consequences), and the stadium remains with the owner, which means he could sell it to anyone he wishes at any time. It’s a dangerous and expensive game with no real benefits, and I doubt it is true. 

But moving on we had on 6 May a headline in the Guardian reading Ange Postecoglou has reinvented Spurs

Reinvention has many meanings but let’s see what happened on the pitch.


Season W D L F A Pts Lge FAC LgCp
2018–19 38 23 2 13 67 39 71 4th R4 SF
2019–20 38 16 11 11 61 47 59 6th R5 R3
2020–21 38 18 8 12 68 45 62 7th R5 RU
2021–22 38 22 5 11 69 40 71 4th R5 SF
2022–23 38 18 6 14 70 63 60 8th R5 R3
2023-24 35 18 6 11 69 58 60 5th R4 R2


Coming fifth, if that is where Tottenham end up is better than last year’s eighth, but Tottenham’s improvement from a year ago is not that great – a few goals, a few more points, 5th instead of eighth, but earlier exits in the cups.  They might still make fourth but that requires a Villa collapse and three consecutive Tottenham wins in the league – something not achieved this year 

In fact this year Tottenham have played 15, won six, drawn three and lost  six.  A little better than last year, but pretty much mid-table.

This season compared to last, Tottenham have scored five more goals,, conceded one more and so have taken their goal difference up from +7 to +11.  Last season after 35 games they were sixth, this season 5th.

And yet we read “Ange Postecoglou has reinvented Spurs.” And “Tottenham’s improvement from a year ago should not be forgotten.”  How can this be justified in terms of results?

Last season they were 25 goals behind the leading club.  Now they are 19.  Last season they were 29 points behind the top club, this season it is 23 with three to play.   If this were Arsenal not a single journalist would call this “Arsenal’s improvement”.  

So what is going on?   

In fact all the frenzy about Tottenham actually improving when really they are pretty much stagnat, can be explained through the notion that the owner will eventually sell.  Tottenham are classified as the ninth biggest club in the world in financial terms, behind Arsenal but above Chelsea.  That’s the asset he has.

The top 10 richest teams are in Europe, the American league now has 20 of the richest football (what they call soccer) clubs in the top 50.  More than the Premier League.  And there is talk that America wants more English clubs.

In fact America rather likes the idea of football clubs, and here is one with a brand spanking new stadium, with compliant journalists happily providing stories that say Tottenham are on the up, when that actually means creeping from 8th to 5th, while quite regularly knocking Arsenal.

Of course the owner of Tottenham is free to sell the club whenever he wishes, and the purchases of Newcastle and Manchester City a while back shows that the Premier League doeesn’t really care who owns what club, no matter what their human rights or criminal records.  All that matters is money.   And it seems there is quite a bit of that waiting to be used on football teams, by people in the States.

That a respectable newspaper goes along with the tale that Tottenham has been reinvented on the grounds that its results over the last five seasons has been 4th, 6th, 7th, 4th, 8th and probably 5th, with defeats in the League Cup and more notably Champions League final en route.

It’s not bad, but it’s not regular top four (much as that was derided when Arsenal did it for 20 consecutive seasons).

So the story benefits Tottenham, and the journalists can knock out another “Tottenham on the up” tale, without actually bothering with facts.  Everyone’s happy.  Except the people who like facts.


4 Replies to “With football, a look behind the story can often reval interesting details.”

  1. Tony,

    I ain’t sure that not paying for the stadium is compatible with financial rules. Basically, it means the owner covers operating costs for the club, so injects money directly which otherwise would have to be earned via advertising, tickets, etc.

    Would that not be the case ?

  2. It’s always been the same Tony.

    For as long as I can remember Spurs are always on the verge of something big. Next season will be ‘their’ season. Tottenham always buy well and sell well.

    For as long as I can remember Arsenal are always on the verge of collapse. Next season is going to be a disaster. Arsenal always buy poorly and sell poorly.

    I’ve been hearing this for as long as I can remember.

    Yet since season 2004 2005 when Arsenal ceased to be an actual football club of any significance, we have still somehow manged to ‘fluke’ 4 FA Cups.
    I know they don’t actually count as trophies of course, but never the less they give the cleaner something to dust.

    Over the same period Spurs have won one League cup. Saves on dusters I suppose, and of course there’s always next year.

  3. Nitram, the swamp mutants do however have the corner on the market in wooden spoon terms and when we no longer have the gold standard then obviously the wood and spud standard will be making them unbeatable/unbearable.

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