Long Form: Assessing Tottenham’s Deadline Failures

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What is a football club?

There are two ways to answer that question. One, you can tell the club’s history. You can say, for instance, that Tottenham was founded by a bunch of grammar school students from All Hallows Church in north London sometime in 1882.

You can tell the story of how they began as a literal club, how they became professional in the 1890s, how Tottenham matured along with the rest of English football through the two World Wars, how the club won the First Division title in 1951 and then again in 1961, how it finds itself today growing into one of the more recognizable sports franchises in the world.

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You can speak of Tottenham legends Bill Nicholson, Teddy Sheringham, Glenn Hoddle, Osvaldo Ardiles, Ledley King and Harry Kane. That’s a mythos and an identity, the way fans everywhere from White Hart Lane to Hotspur HQ identify and connect with the club and each other.

Two, you can talk about money. You can say that Forbes values the club at around $600 million. You could say that about $284 million of that comes from broadcast rights, the result of a collective bargaining agreement that in part explains the English Premier League’s increased transfer market dealings this summer. You could say that, by Forbes’ metric, these numbers make Tottenham the 13th most valuable football team in the world, sandwiched in between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Schalke 04.

That is what makes Tottenham a business, an entity concerned with profit margins and bottom lines. To a cynic, it is the factory line that produces all the culture and identity that get people invested – literally and figuratively – in the club.

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