Tottenham’s Daniel Levy is the only sane man in the asylum

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Daniel Levy, Chairman of Tottenham Hotspurs looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton at White Hart Lane on October 5, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Daniel Levy, Chairman of Tottenham Hotspurs looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton at White Hart Lane on October 5, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images) /

After ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy took the opportunity to lash out at the current economics of football.

It is a rare thing to get actual words out of Levy, who tends to stay behind his curtain at Tottenham and let Mauricio Pochettino bear the brunt of the media.

Despite said reticence, Levy is arguably one of the most well known club chairman in the sport — even if his name might often be invoked in the form of a punchline.

Levy’s reputation for underbidding, stalling and brinksmanship cuts a frustrating figure, at least with those tasked with negotiating with him. Spurs fans, too, might occasionally lament that Levy’s presence at the table often slows down or outright stalls transfers to and from the club.

At the same time however, it’s nearly impossible to fault Levy. His interests are the club’s interests, after all, and he is only making sure that Spurs get the best deals possible. With one or two exceptions — paging Monsieur Sissoko — the club usually come out better on the other end.

With a new stadium being built atop old White Hart Lane, Levy’s role of pennypincher-in-chief has become all the more important. The club cannot indulge, at least not until their £800 million new home is complete.

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Which serves as a convenient excuse to not participate in the current circus playing out in the Premier League. New television deals combined with ambitious — née foolhardy — owners fueled by petrodollars have conspired to inflate the transfer market beyond reason, and many clubs are gleefully shrugging their shoulders as they empty their pockets.

Levy telegraphed his take on this matter long before he opined in New York on Monday. To date this summer Spurs have not spent a dime on the transfer market, though they have indulged the excess of one of their primary rivals by selling Kyle Walker to Manchester City for an entirely unjustifiable £50 million, plus add ons.

So Levy’s hard words for his peers around the league should hardly shock anyone. As quoted by the Guardian:

"“My view is that it’s totally unsustainable. I’m not sure if that’s the view of the other Premier League clubs, but certainly the prices that are being paid for other Premier League players, I can’t see it being sustainable in the long term. We’ve managed the club, we think, in a very appropriate way.“I think I am a custodian of this football club. This club has been around since 1882 and when I leave it will be somebody else. I think we have a duty to manage the club appropriately. I don’t think that long term for any club it’s sustainable to spend more than you earn. You can have periods where you do but over the long term you can’t."

In truth, there’s a little bit more than high-mindedness going on here. Levy can so freely criticize the current state of affairs because Tottenham are uniquely well suited to weather this bubble.

The team that finished second in the league least season — and third the season before that — remains largely intact but for Walker. Spurs successfully pushed off interest in Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier, all while getting extended contract commitments from the bulk of the first team squad.

If that wasn’t forward-thinking enough, Levy long ago enacting a plan for long term sustainability — a plan embodied by Pochettino. The Argentine’s enthusiasm for nurturing young talent from within the club made investing in the Academy and training facilities an easy decision.

"“I think that some of the activity that’s going on at the moment is just impossible to be sustainable. If somebody is spending £200m more than they’re earning then eventually it catches up with you. You can’t keep doing it. We’ve invested a lot of money in physical facilities for long-term growth. So we’ve got one of the world’s best training facilities. We’ve invested over £100m in that facility.“We’re now investing in the stadium. The stadium is fundamental because with that we get more fans and more income and that’s the way to clearly have a more sustainable business. At the same time the academy is important because we can produce our own players. We don’t have to go and spend £20, £30m, £40m on a player and obviously that homegrown player has an affinity with the club that a player we buy doesn’t.“That’s what the fans want to see. They want to have that passion. That’s what you get with a homegrown player and that’s why people love Harry Kane and sing that he’s one of our own.”"

Tottenham, in short, currently maintain one of the best teams in the country, and are already well on their way to ensuring that they maintain that level of quality for years to come.

Next: Match Report: Tottenham 2 - 3 Roma

That Levy helped engineer the means to do so without spending £200 million every summer seems set to be the crowning achievement of his career at Tottenham.