A possible reason we struggle to sign early

One of the great debates and sources of frustration around Spurs for years has been, what appears to be, our inability to move early in the transfer window to secure our players.  More often than not we as fans are waiting until deadline day and yes, some times that can prove fruitful signing the likes of Lloris however I often wonder how different our midfield would have been had we secured Moutinho in his prime when he was ready to join but we ran out of time to complete the deal.

The most common person blamed for this is Daniel Levy.  He is a shrewd negotiator and one that football chairman and directors of football around the world hate dealing with.  Sir Alex Ferguson once describing dealing with him as “…more painful that my hip replacement…”

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26:  Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Daniel Levy looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at White Hart Lane on September 26, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

However manager Mauricio Pochettino in a recent interview has defended the chairman to the fans stating; “he is always looking to improve the team, he works so hard to make signings but he unlike most of us knows what the club can and cannot afford or do…”  he also added; “…since I joined he has made money available and tried to sign every player I have wanted.  I know this, I am happy, I know his work and how hard he works for this club, the fans….”

Towing the company line?  Perhaps however I get the impression Pochettino simply would say nothing if he didnt agree rather than answering a question – when it comes to this aspect the boss appears to honestly believe in Levy and how he works and almost suggests the two of them share frustrations over not being able to get things over the line faster.

So if we have the money available and if we take him at his word that the club do identify targets and move quickly to try and sign them why is it things always seem to happen late?  A possible explanation has been given and widely accepted as the truth by a former agent who worked closely with Spurs players before he retired.

In an interview to ESPN the former agent stated that Tottenham have the stricted wage structure of any top team in the big European leagues and every, EVERY agent knows that.  In a business where agents are paid a percentage of the contract they secure their client an agent will always look for the “best deal” for his player and of course that means most money.

If you are a top player in Europe you can expect at any of the top clubs in the Champions League to earn a minimum of £100,000 per week.  At Spurs this is what the top earner is on.  Harry Kane could demand double, or triple that at many clubs that Spurs are trying to compete with.

The reason for the strict structure is also clear.  The club is growing, revenues are growing however they are also spending a lot on infastructure which have long term benefits but short term costs and that effects the bottom line.  Much in the press has been made of the statistic that Spurs gross revenue has grown by £150m in the last three years however the annual wage budget has only grown by£10m.

The key word here is GROSS.  The Spurs GROSS income has grown.  Behind that misleading stat is a lot of information which shows the costs to achieve that new gross income are a LOT higher.  Yes £10m on the wage bill but also close to £50m in money spent on expanding facilities and increasing that revenue.

You also have to factor in the stadium cost which post Brexit has jumped due to the currency conversion.  The club originally budgeted for £500m with £400m hopefully to be recouped through a stadium naming rights deal, however that cost has jumped to £800m – although the club moved quickly to secure a finance package and Daniel Levy has ensured the budgets are separate allowing the team to continue to grow it has meant that the wage structure cannot be moved until the new stadium is open.

Spurs New Stadium Image

Fifa Fair Play rules do still exist although widely accepted as a joke as so many clubs find a way around them, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is not doing that.  He is making sure that if he were hit by a bus tomorrow (I know some of you may cheer) the club would be on a rock solid foundation for whoever takes it over.  He has referred to himself many times as a custodian.  Remember when he took it on we were losing money hand over fist.

So with the wage structure tight and not able to move until after the stadium I come back again to the former football agents point.  A player may want to sign, his club may agree a fee and want to see but if his agent hears a Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd etc are all ‘maybe’ interested they will hang on, drag their feet… make Spurs wait.

We have seen this happen with Chelsea at least twice, Willian and Batshuyai.  Both players we agreed fees with their clubs, spoke with the players and were ready to move forward but then they ended up signing for Chelsea on double the money we were willing to offer.

So it makes sense.  If you are an agent, your income is based on getting the most money, if Spurs come calling you know you can possibly get a better deal elsewhere.  You wait.  As a club, we identify targets and then we work through the list, #1 target and so on.

The example this window is Ross Barkley.  Its common knowledge almost that the player wants to leave Everton as he feels he has stagnated there.  A brave decision considering they offered him £120,000 per week to sign.  If he joins Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea.. Arsenal… he will earn that or more.  At Spurs he will be offered £80,000 per week at the most.

So, even though the player seems keen to work under Pochettino and our manager is very keen on signing him we are waiting.  Ross’ agent no doubt hoping someone else will come in.  We as a club of course have other options we are looking at.  Max Meyer in Germany is one.  Gray of Leicester City another.

As deadline day gets closer things will suddenly start happening.  Not because that is when Daniel Levy, as many would have you believe, decides its time to start haggling but because agents allow their players to move.

Here is hoping we get the deals over the line we want.  COYS!

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