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How Tottenham can compete with mega-rich clubs and be successful again


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n interesting counterfactual when assessing Daniel Levy’s Tottenham is to consider where the club would be if Abu Dhabi had not transformed the financial fortunes of Manchester City.

Since City were catapulted into the financial elite in 2008, they have finished above Spurs in nine of 13 seasons and, in three of those campaigns, effectively denied them Champions League football by being above the fifth-placed north London club.

Without a financially-boosted City, Spurs might well have finished in the top four in nine of the previous 13 seasons and quite possibly won a trophy or several.

Levy’s careful business plan would be far more celebrated today and the perception of Spurs and their embattled chairman would surely be very different.

The question feels relevant because yesterday’s opponents are the next club hoping to quickly leapfrog Spurs following their takeover by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Even before considering the ethical questions of Saudi’s human rights record, you can understand why Levy would feel particularly aggrieved at another monied Premier League project.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side burst Newcastle’s Saudi bubble with a 3-2 win at St James’ Park which underlined the scale of the task facing the Toon’s new owners, but as much as any club in the Premier League, Spurs stand to lose out from the changing of the guard on Tyneside.

Levy’s brand of fiscal prudence is now up against three projects backed by fabulous wealth, also including Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, as well as commercial behemoths in Manchester United and Liverpool. Spurs have their own trump card in their stadium, which successfully hosted the NFL yesterday, but competing at the top will be no easier if Newcastle’s hopes are realised.

Spurs comfortably bested Steve Bruce’s struggling side on an occasion when the football felt secondary following the collapse of a supporter, which held up play for 20 minutes.


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