I was chatting to a relative over the New Year about our esteemed chairman and the new stadium. We started out laughing at the long running joke that a brick hasn't been laid (even though there's a bloody foundation being dug up) and then got onto the subject of the money ENIC will have to source along with Joe Lewis and his bundles of billions that won't find their way towards funding anything.
I don't pretend to be a financial expert so I'm dumbing this down massively, so dig holes (something Tottenham do well) in this random thought for the day at your our pleasure.
We all understand ENIC are an investment company but when is their actual end game? When do they maximise that all important profit margin and ride off into the sunset? Levy earns a nice wage. It's not a bad little job he's got and with the emphasis being on transitioning Spurs into a bigger brand and entity, it's a slow brooding project (I completely understand we all prefer silverware to accountancy sheets, but that's a different topic). They have (Levy, ENIC) already been at Spurs for what you can consider to be a long haul. Yet it's taken this long to be in viable position to push for geographical change in N17.
The second chapter is now upon is (or at least on its way). Make no mistake, this new stadium will open opportunities for the club that haven't existed before in terms of revenue and stature. We already have one of the best training facilities in the country and a 61k ground will add to the gloss substantially. But it's Lewis and Levy's personal ambition that intrigues me. Are they truly disconnected and emotionless to the essence of the club itself (the football side)? That's the far reaching narrative that some like to constantly share. I've been guilty of it too.
I'm sure they'll argue there isn't a difference in the modern football world and that the business side is imperative to support the football side, because football is big business. The Sky Sports era and the dominance of their Top Four pretty kept us at a distance, although I'd like to cite Irving Scholar here. His broken vision almost killed the club before the Premier League TV money and Champions League kicked in and created the gulf in revenue + quality of signings. Winning the FA Cup in 1991 might just have been the perfect example of when football on the pitch influenced the future of the football club off it.
I've always thought ENIC would take the club to a certain point and sell it, thus making a huge huge profit and completing the investment cycle. Then again, when this stadium is complete, do you honestly - hand on heart - think Levy isn't going to want to preside in the directors box to over-see the dawn of a new era? Is he really going to be content with someone else sat there, soaking it all in whilst he enjoys the pay off and retirement?
Pay-off and retirement - that's obviously everybody's end game, but when you've been at the club for a generation then why not just see it through till a more rounded logical conclusion? Building it is one phase, there's much more that's required once we're playing our football inside it.
Whether he's loved or maligned, Levy will leave Spurs with a new stadium that will be our home pretty much forever (or at least until the game goes global and we move to LA as the first Anglo-American franchise). His legacy will be undeniable. You'll be sat inside it every other week.
Say what you want about him but I can't believe the bloke is completely detached from the 'football' part of the club. Professionals, be it in the team or in the board room, are not always comparable to supporters and our mind set. We are sometimes far less pragmatic and far more emotionally attached. Of course, if naming rights and investment isn't forthcoming in a way that suits (the stadium will easily end up costing more than £450M), then selling it earlier could be an option. I've always found this theory to be weak (even if I've defaulted to it). A finished article is a better sale then one that remains physically fledging. It's a completion rather than a desperate escape.
As for Lewis and the constant demands from some of our fanbase to have him lump up the money, surely when you're a billionaire, money stops existing. My head is going to explode with this and I probably won't do a good job articulating it. It's an abstract observation but if you have that type of financial resource, everything becomes free. Unless you're looking at corporations, takeovers and investments - which is probably the only thing Lewis burns grey matter on. So the challenge is to then build something up without cheating your way by simply paying for it out of your own pocket. The demanding is based around Lewis being a Spurs fan and everyone expecting an Oligarch style money drop - just because he can in our simplistic valuation of his worth and what the stadium will cost. Also (forgive my lack of memory retention) but the word investment is key here. They've invested their money already. Something we tend to forget and ignore and take for granted.
Tottenham Hotspur for Lewis could simply be another highlight for his legacy and one he can enjoy because of his connection to the club (as a fan). There's also the association we (the non-billionaires) struggle with. The reason they've made the money they've made is because of their absolute commitment to every single penny earned and spent. The way they think about business and money probably hasn't changed that much since the first £100 they made when first starting out.
It's not heart-warming from our perspective thanks to the lust for what we consider definable success. For Lewis, someone that already has everything, to see the club grow organically and become potentially ten times what it's worth today is surely the buzz a billionaire can get out of it. It's been a hard slog from the days of El Tel and Alan Sugar saving the club from the brink. An absolute age to be honest with some pretty depressing dips and thankfully the occasional cup and adventure. Times do appear to be changing.
I think we're stuck with Levy for a while. There's still plenty to do. That'll please a few.