Dear Mr Levy...overhaul this
Dear Mr Levy,
I was lost in the wonderment that perhaps you didn't exist. That the little man with the bald head that occasionally appeared in photo-opportunities with prospective sponsors and alongside another new dawn managerial appointment was nothing more than a holographic projection controlled by Joe Lewis in a hammock via the Bahamas.
Much like Keyser Söze there is a marriage of myth and half-truths and fantastical deflection leaving us all conflicted with whatever it is we are meant to be proud of.
A club announcement on our financial highlights is the least appealing of all updates but it serves a purpose, at the very least giving us a measurement of when to expect this shiny new stadium to be built. Would it be cynical to suggest its timing also helps to soothe over the current ill feeling felt against the board?
Regardless, the update has a certain degree of transparency and news of progression. It's the type of stuff the club (ENIC) excel at. It's not transparency of anything that embraces the football. Which is all we really care about.
I won't spend too much time talking about the percentages and interest and tax and profit. I can't sit here in pretence and admit to understanding most of it. All that matters purely from a fiscal perspective is that the club is 'well run'. That all too well known get out clause whenever the football side of things implode. At least we've got money in our pockets.
Look, I'm not dismissive of this at all. I also appreciate that building a new stadium and to be spearheading the redevelopment of N17 is a massive upheaval of politics, community and investment. We have a date of 2017 to now look forward to which means we'll finally see some bricks cemented together later this year.
The AIA shirt partnership is good for the club. It's money. It means absolutely nothing to me other than passive contentment the club is able to attract these types of deals. It's the business side of any club and it holds no glamorous high for the common man in the stands or those sat home sat in front of the tv.
I'm excited for what Tottenham, the area and the club, will look like in 3/4 years and beyond. Shame on those that wanted the quick fix of Stratford - a short cut that placed the emphasis on revenue before club heritage. Shame, hey Daniel?
Most of the statement concerned facts and figures and I'm detached from it all aside from simply wanting to know when we can expect things to move along. And they look like they're moving. So no criticism here. Thus far. If you believe the sentiment shared.
Onto the other part of the announcement. The blurb, the sound-bites, the propaganda.
The safe words and statements that are more robotic than human. The call to arms to unite a fragmented fan-base into thinking we are all moving in the same direction - together. The illusion that this is one club rather than it being THFC in spirit only with the bricks owned by an investment company and the soul being ripped apart by the greed of the modern game. A state of mind that has also corrupted the supporters to the point of impossible impatience.
I will forever be Tottenham. I'll never fall out of love with the club. The club for me is defined by its supporters and our collective experiences and memories. Our identity is one shared by the emotive elements that bind it altogether including the traditions that give the football club its iconic place in history. Only non league club to win the FA Cup. Inventors of push and run. First British club to win a European trophy. Legendary cup finals. Undeniable moments in history. Countless generations of flair players. Style and substance, if not that much of a spine but enough glory from one decade to the next to keep us forever dreaming, forever reaching out for that little bit more. This is Tottenham. Not ENIC or financial statements.
Falling out of love with football itself is a far easier thing to do. The experience as a whole across the entirety of the game rather than those special moments out on the pitch that can still spike delirium.
It's an overused cliché to cite customers and client ref numbers and being over policed and patronised on match-days. We are the dispensable generation. Sky Sports and the Premier League and our club got rich off the back of our insatiable appetite for the game. A cruel twist of irony and fate that our obsession for it has created a monster that is now so power hungry and desperate for more, it feeds off itself and sacrifices its life blood. You. Me. All of us.
Either I'm selfish and spoilt and won't accept the reality that we are always going to be at a disadvantage thanks to the richer clubs above us (until the stadium is built) or I have a right to believe we are under achieving when some suggest we're over achieving. Never quite aiming as high as Bill Nicholson would want us to.
Ignoring the money, even competing at the level we are at now and signing (and losing) the players we do - we are sometimes a mere point away from achieving something that can lead to more. Attempting to attain that is what makes it an echo of glory, which is our DNA. I guess in some ways it's a polite way of saying we're the glorious losers. Or perhaps we're just the clown prince, the jester.
Bitter we are that deep down we know Champions League football is key to retaining career minded upper tier footballers but for me, CL is the only way to come up against the very best clubs from the continent and make us stronger in the long run for a genuine title challenge. That's me bending reality of course because we are nowhere near that although we have entertained it recently thanks to the various states of flux other clubs have and are experiencing. Proving that money aside, the football does the talking when it matters most. We just prefer to choke on our words and mumble in tongues at pivotal moments.
It's a shame the FA Cup has been devalued to the point where even history looks away, with everyone seeking for a placement over silverware. Remember the days you could recite every cup final score and narrative? It was an occasion to behold. Every bit as important as winning the league. I'd be hard pressed to remember the past three cup finals and their scorelines.
So those moments out on the field are key. Those pockets of glory and glorious failures at the very least remind us of what football should be about. Heart on sleeve dreaming. But still, Nicholson would probably see the bigger picture and want us to win every game, and finish top of the lot so that should always be the grand target - even if its hardly a tangible one.
With all this in mind, I don't ever expect to read something from you that will make me smile or make me think we are stepping forward into more transparent times with how the club is managed from a footballing side. The biggest problem of all is that there never seems to be a human connection between chairman and the appointed coach. I'm not expecting an official podcast from the club or transcripts of internal meetings or you waving your shoe around in the directors box. Just a nudge every so often that you, ENIC - the curators, the custodians of MY, of OUR football club - are doing what is best for the supporters and not what is best for you and your investment based on your own personal time-frame and pension plan.
Hahaha, I crack myself up sometimes. I'm not even drunk or high. This is me sober.
Oh listen to this utter b*llocks I'm spouting. I'm not really this naive to think any of the above has a place in the harsh real world. It's a business that depends on its fan-base and a good footballing model, and we have that to a degree even with all its failing but its not strong enough for the next level so we plod along and use the constraints we accept as chains as a subconscious excuse for never attaining more.
We are as good as we can be but we don't aspire for more in anything other than words of intent (all talk, little action). The club ticks over because of the business side, it isn't led by the football. We missed out just before the birth of the Sky Sports Top Four. Although being part of that might have just fast-tracked the detachment we have now, multiplied a dozen times, at a far greater level where for the most part we'd all be gagged from complaining because of consecutive CL qualifications and other virtues of the modern game where the chase for money is rewarded more than the chase for silverware.
Look at me, I have no identity. I don't know who I am or what I want to be. A true reflection of the club I support. I want the sustained glory but don't want to cut corners or lose any part of our heritage by selling out to oil or gas. It's moon on a stick stuff. Arguably, you could say that this is exactly what you're doing for us presently - you're going about it the right way. The scenic route rather than moving us to East London and the Olympic Stadium. Yet it feels exceptionally laboured. Like you have all the time in the world. And you do. Build the stadium, sell the club, it all becomes someone else's problem.
What a contradiction I am. What a contradiction you are.
You mention we are sixth in the league and that the top four places have been fiercely contested by at least seven teams. False. It's been pretty crap in the upper echelons of the Premier. North London, white or red, has been destroyed on several occasions. Teams have stumbled along half asleep and apologetically woken up late to gatecrash the party. It's not half as good as the pundits on Sky would have you believe. Compare us to this time last season and it's depressing how far we've managed to dip.
We have at no single point this season given it a go.
We'll never know the details of Andre Villas-Boas emotional collapse and tactical struggles but its obvious he had no friends in-house and in the end had to go (ignoring his inability to use the squad he had rather than fathom a system for a set of player he didn't have). The capitulations were a combination of his inability to get his team working and the non-existent backing from those around him. Tim Sherwood, a desperation move, thanks to the lack of planning and no mid-season viable appointment. On this occasion, the chaos theory hasn't given us the second coming of (a) Harry Redknapp. The perfect illustration of our intellect. When we plan for it, it goes wrong. When we don't, it sometimes goes right.
Would you run the business side like that Daniel? I doubt it. We'd be bankrupt within three seasons.
Yes, we've raised our expectations from a club aiming to be in the top half of the table to competing in Europe. I love this line in particular; '...to the point at which we find ourselves disappointed if we don't make Champions League'.
Our expectations have changed. But failure to make CL has sometimes fallen on the fact we have not consolidated our January position during the transfer window. You can start back in 2006 and work your way forward for a variety of examples of when we didn't speculate that little bit extra to make up the distance we have with the rest in terms of financial clout.
We - as a group of fans - are quite obviously not built for success as seen with how pressured we are to reclaim that adventure with the elite. The atmosphere at the Lane has suffered for it.
Yes, we had significant changes this summer and during the mid-way stage of the season. But please don't go comparing points totals from last season to this season as points totals are only relevant to the season they are gained in and have no direct connection to the following season. Last season, we were in the chase. This season we're not. That's the only relevant detail.
Yes, the squad has potential. It's being squandered as per usual. The reason I was gutted with how the AVB tenure ended was because for the first time in a long time this club presented a unified front. Yet again it was as distant and fragile as the one we had under Harry Redknapp. Talk of projects, the new academy and ethos and the progressive scientific blueprints - all buzz words that don't play out once you shoehorn a director of football in and nobody quite knows if the players being signed are the ones the manager wants.
Redknapp's transfer policy was short term and cheap and didn't match up to the supposed ambitions of yourself and others and yet we go from one extreme to another with our seven summer signings that rocked the squad balance to dizzying effect.
Everyone gave up before AVB was sacked and no one has switched on since.
We have fantastic support? Well, yes, in some ways we do. Take the CL season. Electric. Everything about our support since has got worse with each passing year. Bickering between fans over conflicting opinions dominates whether you're in the Park Lane or on Twitter. Most of our players have taken the mantle of club scapegoat. The football has been so poor we've channelled our anger towards StubHub and the disastrous PR handling of the yid word. 47k on a waiting list? That includes (bronze) members that get placed on the list automatically, so its hardly a waiting list in the true sense of the word and hardly anyone seems to want to buy a ticket for a midweek game in the Europa League meaning the modern fan wants to pick and choose their game. Maybe the type of club we have is the the type of club we deserve.
The stadium will make a difference in the long run and might allow for a wage structure that gives us an edge we lack at currently. But I can't help but think this is yet another shift further away from where I want to be. You only have to look across to our neighbours to see how the detachment can curse you in the stands. Hopefully our lack of quantifiable success on the field will keep the adrenalin of the chase going and retain a sense of togetherness within the new ground that fuels noise and colour and not a quiet zone for visiting tourists.
I want the progression, the right way, and I'll have to suffer all the unavoidable attachments that come with a stadium that can cater for around 60k. As long as the core of the support - the ones that frequent Spurs home and away currently are kept close to heart.
Upton Park must be an April Fools joke that has stumbled over to the next day. If ground sharing will speed up the the process then so be it. Just make sure you consider the football element. Enough with this East End obsession.
The focus of continuing to invest and develop the squad is a fallacy. We are a stepping stone club that makes money from buying young talent and selling them for treble or more their initial out-lay. This is how we survive but we believe in this mantra so much (as a business) it out weights the push on the pitch we are so desperate for. Which is why we are truly disappointed and unaccepting of our 'position' even if we are over-achieving or shouldn't expect to be on the same playing field as the ones above us.
So should I just accept this battle I'm having is one that can not be won and ease up on the expectations and slow down to the pace that is being driven by the regeneration plans? I wish I could embrace the game for what it is - eleven versus eleven, the hope for a bit of swashbuckle and swagger. Yet the business element is all encompassing, dominating and bullying from top to bottom. In addition, we are not the life-blood that you seem to perpetuate we are.
"...we shall ensure that they are the most important stakeholder as we move forward"
Then forget about world wide branding of THFC and potential blushes and back us over the yid word instead of inventing new ways to side-step the fact that the fan-base is for rather than against it. Suddenly informing us that we have to consider a minority that find it offensive and ignore the majority is a tactic that has be shifting towards this: you don't want us using it. You'll do everything and anything to eradicate it.
Stop treating us like cattle, like nondescript numbers walking through the turnstiles and accept us for what we are - the club. Not that this makes any sense. Don't renewal your season ticket of ten years? Don't fret, someone will replace you. We are numbers. Nothing more. Which highlights the importance of the The Trust and the work they do to give us a voice that the club can not ignore.
Facilitate safe standing in the new stadium or for starters, back it and back the change to have the government change the legislation. Might not be relevant in the present but if we're thinking long term with the stadium, then think long term with the supporters. If you're going to survey season ticket holders about shuttle services and four-course meals how about considering the great unwashed too? The ones that will walk the full length of the Seven Sisters and buy a burger outside.
You listened to us on StubHub - go that extra step and bottleneck how much tickets can be sold for, allowing for the legalised touting tag to loosen and float away. It's an on-line service right? The ones using it are the ones with the responsibility to price the tickets or pay the asking price but we all know greed consumes and having this service associated to Spurs encourages supporters to rip each other off. There's no more ticket flipping (great news) so that will help stop actual dirty tactic touting (no different to what you get on the street). Sadly, at the end of it, this is only an exercise where the club will use the data to understand just how much a fan is willing to pay for a match-day experience. Think of it as a real-time consultation experiment for the club to model future price ticketing around.
Make a coaching appointment that is for the good of the football and our traditions and let them get on with it, with full backing, and none of the obstacles that clouds your direct involvement and hides you from taking responsibility. This is where the real necessity for transparency exists. In us believing the club back the coach and that everyone is pulling in the same direction. If we can have a coach that isn't undermined and is empowered then we might begin to see some change where it matters - on the field of play.
This isn't about stamping our feet on the ground and demanding big silver shiny silverware because of a deluded sense of entitlement. It's about self-pride and belief. We want to believe. I want to believe. Christ, forget about the lack of connection between chairman and coach - how about the one between the club and its supporters?
Your statement should be one greeted with positivity, yet many are not accepting because of the mistrust built up over the years. We've heard it all before. I've actually gone against my better judgement and given you the benefit of the doubt on the stadium announcement. Some would call me foolish to do so, but only a fool would do so and not expect disappointment.
For the record, just in case it's not that obvious, I'm actually quite positive about our immediate future. What I'm not positive about is sustaining it. But I've already admitted that ups and downs is what we all know and love/hate and that hasn't really ever changed. If we're going to encapsulate the words of Nicholson or Blanchflower there has to be more to it than an acceptance that we are always going to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
Still, it doesn't really matter. None of it does. We'll probably do really well next season like I think we will. We are fickle and easily pleased. Stupid for the most part and you know this. If Spurs have another roaring type of season (s) like 2010 - 11 we'll only be concerned with the football - and that's all that matters and we'll stop talking about you and only talk about the on field action. Everyone will be high because of it and suddenly all the institutionalised mishaps will be placed aside as we once more reach out for our little slice of history. When it implodes, we'll back here arguing about the same subject matter and how the club is well run but the football side isn't.
For now, all I can do is watch this season limp to its conclusion then brace myself for no-overhaul this summer. Aside from the odd key position. Like the strikers. The midfield. The wings. The defence, especially fullbacks. The coach and back-room staff.
No major overhaul. Not too worry, we didn't spend any money last summer either.
Just another ickle reboot then for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Onwards then to the next announcement. Season ticket renewal deadline. Best you squeeze in another transfer rumour for good measure.
Yours in purgatory,