Sacking Harry Redknapp is a big gamble for Tottenham and Daniel Levy | Amy Lawrence
After a rare spell of stability the Spurs chairman has picked a strange time to roll the managerial dice
When the Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, played hardball last summer, by jutting his jaw out to withstand Chelsea’s heavyweight attempt to gain Luka Modric, he was applauded for his stron g will in difficult circumstances. Now he is playing a different kind of hardball, with internal issues on the line. Levy has acted with steely swiftness in sacking Harry Redknapp. This time, the reaction is a little more mixed.
For all the debate about the motivation for closing this particular chapter, the timing of such a gamble for Tottenham is strange. It has taken them decades to plant their flag in the Champions League (and but for Chelsea’s victory they would have been in the shake-up in two out of the past three seasons). Their stock in terms of globally admired players has not been higher since the days of Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker. It feels like a risky time to be rolling the managerial dice.
With such a lot going on away from the pitch at White Hart Lane, it is important for Tottenham to keep their footing in the top echelons of the game. The redevelopment of their stadium – a must if the club intend to stick around at the top table in English football – is an ongoing issue that will take considerable time and expense to come to fruition. Tottenham need to find some financial partners, which is one of the reasons they delisted their shares recently, as they believe they have a greater chance of finding investors away from the stock exchange.
The Northumberland Development Project, whereby the club rebuild the ground on its current site to add another 20,000 to their current capacity of 36,000, was given planning permission in 2011. It remains an enormous undertaking, though, and raising the funds to make it happen during a recession is not an enviable task. As yet, there is no date for the building to start.
Joe Lewis, the billionaire owner of Enic, the company who control the club, has never been minded to act like a sugar daddy so there is no reason to believe he will now. Lewis, who lives in the Bahamas and has no visible presence at the club, trusts his protege Levy to run the busines s as he sees fit.
Back in the 1980s, before football’s economic boom, Spurs were at the vanguard when it came to ideas for making football more marketable and commercial. They were among the first clubs to float on the stock exchange. They diversified into leisurewear and computer systems. They constructed what at the time were a row of executive boxes that offered comfort bearing no relation to the basic matchday experience. When Irving Scholar was chairman of the club, Tottenham were prime movers when it came to finding new ways to generate money.
But Tottenham have clearly fallen behind in the race to maximise resources. While White Hart Lane remains in its current form, there is a limit to what they can realistically aspire to. What they have done well in the past few years is put together a team on a wage bill that is enviably small compared to the Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, and make that group punch above its weight. Maintaining this will be the challenge for a new manager.
There is some discontent in the stands at White Hart Lane on the subject of Levy’s tight grip on the club’s purse strings. While keeping hold of Modric last year looked like ambition, the bigger picture is still uncertain.
And so ends an era of relative stability. Redknapp’s reign, lasting almost four seasons, is the longest period of any manager since Terry Venables moved upstairs in 1991. Levy’s latest chop makes it 18 changes in the dugout in 21 years. Is it a coincidence that a long period with one manager, by Spurs standards, has contributed to some high Premier League positions?
Tottenham can ill afford for this decision to backfire. Read More