Should Tottenham be doing better: the financial realities suggest not




By Nitram

The thing is, and it is what I have been saying for years and years, winning the PL in particular and trophies in general, is all about medium and long-term spending. I don’t mean the occasional splurge, I mean consistent large-scale investment over time. It is the only way.

This is the premier league clubs nett spending over the last 10 years:


Team Spend Titles Current position
Manchester United £1.178m 1 3rd
Manchester City £968m 5 2nd
Arsenal £735m 0 1st
Chelsea £711m 2 10th


It’s worth pausing here because this table highlights what I mean. No, spending on transfers is not an exact science, but there are reasons for that which I will attempt to explain later. But over the last 10 years, eight of the titles have gone to three of the top four spenders.

The interloper is in fact Arsenal. who, given their net spend over the last 10 years should have won at least one title.

Okay, that could be called a ‘failure’, but there are mitigating circumstances. Specifically, they were playing catch up, not only with those other three clubs but with almost the entire Premier League, who had been significantly outspending Arsenal for the previous ten years due to our commitment to building the Emirates.

Even so we haven’t been totally without success having won four FA Cups over the period and in the process become the FA Cup’s most successful team ever. Maybe this will be the year all that spending pays off with that elusive title!

Time will tell. But one thing is for sure, we wouldn’t be where we are without all that spending. And history tells us, we won’t stay there if we don’t continue doing so, even if it can’t be at the level of the oilers.

But, as much as big spending is imperative, it is not the only factor. Once you are in the big spenders mini league then the other factors become key.  Factors such as these below, and I have put them in what I see as the order of importance…

  1. The Manager.
  2. Recruitment.
  3. Club stability.
  4. Youth development.
  5. Referees/PGMOL

So within that hierarchy of spending it is Manchester City that have most of those factors in place, and this has been the case for some time now:

  • Mega spending – Of course
  • The Manager – The best (Probably)
  • Recruitment – Definitely
  • Club stability – Yep
  • Youth – So So

All that equals pretty much total dominance. That means the rest of us, even other mega-spenders, are feeding on scraps.  But despite this Chelsea picked up two titles, Liverpool one and Arsenal four FA cups.

And it gets even more telling if you take our two main domestic trophies as a whole. 10 PL’s and 10 FA Cups. Out of those 20 available domestic trophies, 15 have been won by the four top spenders. If you note that out of the remaining five trophies, Liverpool have won two it still keeps the ‘big spending = success’ theme going as, despite managing to keep their net spend down, their gross spend has been absolutely enormous. Ok, good housekeeping but still mega spending.

Regarding Liverpool though, it does go to show that despite the impression given by the media of Liverpool being a dominant Premier League team over recent times, that is a bit of an illusion.  In fact, domestically, they have won just one Premier League title and one FA cup over the period. But here’s the rub: when it comes to REAL big net spending, they are way down the list, as indeed are Tottenham, who are the inspiration for this post.

Continuing the last 10 years Nett spending:

Team Spend Titles Current position
West Ham United £513m 0 15th
Newcastle United £439m 0 4th
Tottenham Hotspur £319m 0 5th
Liverpool £385m 1 9th
Aston Villa £369m 0 11th
Everton £350m 0 19th


As we drop to the fifth club and below, despite still talking enormous numbers these figures are a long long way behind the top two spenders, and most significantly behind the next two, and that to me explains their positions, and lack of trophies.

Explanations and anomalies:


Currently sitting 10th despite an enormous 10-year spend. They are massively underachieving, as not only is their 20 year and 10 year net spend enormous, their last five-year net spend is second only to Manchester Utd. So why? Well as I said, as much as spending big is crucial, and you cannot be successful without it, you do have to get other things right as well.  Chelsea, for example, have been at best average in many of these other crucial factors.

  • Mega spending – Of course
  • Top Manager – Debatable
  • Recruitment – Poor
  • Stability – Poor
  • Youth development – Okay

Apart from that, maybe the club’s overarching policy of buying anything that moves simply to stop your competitors getting them, then not playing them or loaning them out, is probably not the genius plan many seemed to think it was.


Currently 5th biggest spenders but languishing in 15th. Not sure what’s happened to be honest, as up until this season they were getting a fair return on their investments sitting, as they were, in and around the top six for long periods. Out of the other crucial factors they must be getting things wrong.

  • Top manager – Jury’s out.
  • Recruitment – Average.
  • Stability – Fairly good.
  • Youth development – Reasonable.

Personally, I think they are a top ten team, just my opinion, but it’s getting tougher not easier, as others such as Newcastle improve. I think Moyes is probably a top 10 manager, (but no more), but I think he will get them back there. We will see.

Tottenham Hotspur

Now we come to the point of this article. Tottenham. Tony asked the question in an earlier article: Why are Tottenham Hotspur having difficulties? 

Well the first thing to establish is, does sitting in 5th place even suggest they are having difficulties? They are certainly having difficulties finding a sponsor for the stadium. But people do like being associated with ‘winners’, and as we all know, winning things is not what Tottenham do. But, and here’s the question, should they be? Tony’s opening sentence was: “In many ways it would appear that Tottenham Hotspur should be doing better than they are.” Again, should they?

Well no, not if you look at how much they have spent over the last 10 years. In fact, they are doing better than their net spend suggests they should be doing. I said many times during Pochetinos’ reign, that despite winning nothing, he was actually overachieving. In net terms, or in real terms if you prefer, Tottenham massively outperformed their spend. Despite winning nothing they were actually doing very well.

In my opinion, they should never have got rid of Pochetino. Again, I said on here that what he was doing at Tottenham was similar to what Wenger was doing during Arsenal’s 10-year trophy drought. A period in which we had a zero net spend. And guess what? The same thing happened to Pochetino as happened to Wenger. The second a season, or a season and a half in Wenger’s case, went wrong, they sacked them. The rights and wrongs of both of those decisions are a matter of opinion, but there is no doubting the similarities.

Now, over the last five years Tottenham have spent a bit more and are currently the 5th biggest net spenders, and where do they sit? Yep, 5th.

So should Tottenham be doing better than they are?   Personally I don’t think so. They are exactly where they should be. 5th. They are performing to par, given the amount of money they are currently spending.

11 Replies to “Should Tottenham be doing better: the financial realities suggest not”

  1. Your right about spend but two factors you missed out quality buying Mr Levy thirst for a bargain has caused him to by inferior players .Also the teams winning Silver have used illegal energy I discovered in 2010 at Liverpool who along with City they swapped the only player caught unused sub Kolo Toure .They shared titles in record points 1st 2nd 100 98 -97 99 86 91 90

  2. This article does match with the finding we reported earlier that when it comes to the big seven playing each other, Tottenham are bottom of the league, overtaken in particular by Newcastle who are now catching up on the lack of spending during the previous regime.

  3. Tony,

    IMHO, you are forgetting the management of the organisation. Not just the manager, not just recruitment.
    The whole organisation.
    Look at how Arsenal have changed – maybe not always for the better – over the past years. How they reached out to supporters. How they’ve managed pretty much ‘cleanly’ most of the last transfers, how we’ve had far less ‘drama’.
    And how the Academy has been working well.

  4. Looks like out of the blue (out of the red ?) Arsenal are close to signing a Jakub Kiwior , 22 year old, polish centre back playing in Italy, at Spezia.

    Guess no one had this guy on their radar.
    A deal around 20 million, a young player…Arsenal are really seriously building up their team and doing smart business.
    Same can be said about Trossard. He may not be as good as marinelli, but like Elneny, he can be a very useful and effective squad player and give some needed depth with experience and just youthful energy.

    I am definitely not surprised.

  5. Three points to add to a great analysis.
    Years ago, you would have said that the size of a clubs fan base was the key. And it still is but less so. (Doesn’t matter how much money or how good a manager Hartlepool has, they are not going to win the Premiership. Newcastle, on the other hand, may well do very soon). But back then the fan base determined your financial power.
    Scotland reinforces most of the points in this article. Celtic and Rangers dominate. But Rangers imploded for 5 years due to no money.

    In the short term, the example of Man Utd and Newcastle is interesting. According to Gary Neville, Man Utd was broken from top to bottom, and only a change from top to bottom could reverse their decline. Yet a new manager and hey presto everything’s good again. This suggests that all this talk about sacking the board etc at clubs is missing the target. Performance comes from the management and players.

    Similarly Newcastle. Their resurgence has been much faster than Man City or Chelsea when their mega bucks came in. The difference? Possibly the change brought in Eddie Howe.

  6. I think the Kiwior story was broken by Marcotti earlier today. Since then it’s been amusing to see other “trusted transfer experts” falling over each other in their attempts to achieve relevance.

  7. The Guardian just cant help themselves can they. In a piece by Nick Ames about the Arsenal United game returning to a meaningful battle, rather than a side show for minor placings, we get this:

    “It has taken Arteta three years to effect what looks close to a complete turnaround. His feat will certainly fit that definition as soon as Arsenal begin winning major trophies again.”

    So, 4 FA Cups in 10 years, the most recent of which was 2 seasons ago, no longer count as major trophies then?

    Funny that as we had this on SKY just last year:

    “Liverpool have won the League Cup and FA Cup to extend their lead as England’s most trophy-laden team The Merseysiders have now claimed 50 major honours since the Football League was founded back in 1888, five ahead of Manchester United. Liverpool now have 19 league titles and 17 domestic cups, trailing United’s record-breaking tally of 20 and 17, respectively.”

    Seems the FA cup counts for Liverpool and Man Utd as MAJOR trophies, but not Arsenal.

    At least now we know!!!

  8. From the Daily Star (Jeremy Cross – Chief Sports Writer) today – “United have their own Norwegian midfielder too, in the shape of Christian Eriksen”.

    If that’s the “Chief Sports Writer”, it makes you wonder how bad the rest are.

    Facts Are Stupid Things

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *