The losses and debts increase for Tottenham

ANOTHER week, another Covid battering for one of Europe’s big football institutions. This time, it’s Tottenham Hotspur, who announced a pre-tax loss of £ 80.2 million for 2020-21 and an increase in their net debts of over £ 100 million.

Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy admitted the pandemic has had a negative impact on the club but equally, hailed Tottenham’s robust nature. The club’s revenues were down by around 11% to £ 361.9 million (2020: £ 402.4m), largely due to the loss of matchday income, which slumped by 98% to £ 1.9 million. Thankfully, resilience came in the form of media income, which rose by 42% to £ 208.1 million, while commercial revenues were down by just under 6% to £ 151.9 million.

Spurs’ loss of £ 80.2 million represented a swing of over £ 200 million since 2018 when they made a profit of £ 138.9 million. This is the second successive year of sizeable losses, coming after 2020’s £ 67.7 million deficit. Furthermore, they have lost £ 100 million in revenues since 2019. More positively, since leaving their ancestral home of White Hart Lane in 2017, the club’s commercial revenues have more than doubled.

Also within that timeframe, Tottenham’s wage bill has climbed by over 60% – from £ 127 million in 2016-17 to £ 205 million in 2020-21, making them one of the biggest payers in English football. The wage-to-income ratio is now 56.63%, still low by Premier League standards, but the highest over the past five years by some distance.

Tottenham were one of Europe’s biggest spenders in 2021, gross transfer fees amounting to just under £ 100 million – they spent more than Liverpool,  Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Atlético Madrid. 

As well as the loan deal involving Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, Spurs paid out big fees for Sergio Reguilón (Real Madrid, £ 25m), Pierre Emile Højbjerg (Southampton, £ 15m) and Matt Doherty (Wolves, £ 13.4m). On the other side of the balance sheet, they sold Kyle Walker-Peters to Southampton for £ 12 million. The club’s profit on player sales amounted to £ 18.9 million, which was highest profit since 2018. It remains to be seen if they will sell Harry Kane in 2021-22 and cash-in on one of their prize assets. According to Transfermarkt, Kane is still worth over £ 100 million, although his market value has declined by 20% over the past 18 months.

Spurs have grown significantly over the past decade, but they have yet to fulfil the potential of their new stadium due to the pandemic and a downturn in their fortunes on the pitch. A combination of these setbacks, along with the financial cost of relocation to their magnificent ground has also seen gross debt increase to £ 853.9 million and their net debt position grow to £ 706.3 million.

Spurs missed out on Champions League or Europa League qualification for 2021-22, but they are competing in the Europa Conference League and should be one of the favourites. They also have a new manager in the form of Antonio Conte, who replaced Nuno Espirito Santo who was only appointed last summer. They are still waiting to win their first trophy since 2008.

Daniel Levy, summing-up the financial results for 2020-21, commented: “Sustainability is a key word in football. We have seen how fragile the finances of a football club can be and the impact of losses on the stability of the football pyramid. As custodians we have to protect the club for future generations of fans…We remain relentlessly ambitious and are determined to deliver honours and make our supporters proud.”

Did Tottenham know their man and do they know who they really want next?

NUNO Espirito Santo has been shown the door by Tottenham Hotspur after just 10 Premier League games and a 50% win rate. Admittedly, they were woeful against Manchester United in their last game, a 3-0 defeat at their gleaming new stadium, but has Nuno been given a fair crack of the whip?

Spurs, embarrassingly, had difficulty filling the job after they saw José Mourinho on his way in April 2021 and they finally got Nuno after a long list of names were thrown into the hat. Some turned them down and they may find they have the same trouble in seeking a replacement for their latest coach.

Since Mauricio Pochettino was relieved of his duties, Spurs seemed to have lacked direction and purpose. The players probably know it, hence Harry Kane expressed his desire to leave and the hangover of a summer of “will, won’t he”, has translated into one Premier League goal in nine games and a mysterious pre-season episode that seemed like the player had gone AWOL.

It’s time to acknowledge that the Pochettino team is now shot, the players have either become disillusioned or gone elsewhere. Look at Dele Alli, once one of the great hopes for English football, but now a shadow of his former self. That Spurs team, which was a joy to watch at times, is not going to win prizes now, at least what’s left of it. Kane will surely go now and Spurs will cash in, although after a mixed start to 2021-22, they may not get as much for their star striker as they would have in the summer. A big name motivator could still turn Kane around if Spurs want to keep him.

But the most worrying aspect of Nuno’s departure is the fact that Spurs didn’t like his style of play or his methods, at least that’s the word coming out of the north London woodwork. This is pure and utter nonsense as the Nuno style was there for all to see at Wolves. Had Spurs not done their homework, if they had why was his approach a surprise? This smacks of the same syndrome that has inflicted Manchester United and, to some extent, Chelsea. How many times has Roman Abramovich been unhappy with the style of his manager? And United, they moaned and groaned at the Mourinho way, yet surely they knew he would take to Old Trafford a style that had been successful for him in the past. The very thing that makes managers attractive – their results – is achieved by their own take on what makes a proficient coach. If that comes as a surprise when he turns up, then the club’s system of recruitment is clearly sub-optimal.

When Pochettino left the club, he had generated a win rate for league games of 56% in his time at Spurs. Mourinho’s win rate was 46.6% and Nuno’s exactly 50%. A few draws would have made a big difference, for Spurs also had a 50% loss rate in the Premier League.

Who will Spurs turn to now? Daniel Levy may feel that Spurs have lost their way and they are being upstaged by Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham in London. Furthermore, their record against the so-called and rather shaky “big six” members is poor, a win rate of 25% since 2019-20.

There’s an interesting situation developing now that may also include Manchester United. If Solskjaer’s position is under threat (and it changes week-by-week), then there may be a battle for the available talent involving United and Spurs. If, for example, Antonio Conte is the man they want, the fact Spurs are now in the market could force United to act quicker than they might have and deal with their own managerial problems.  If that happens, Spurs may find they are back to square one.