Tottenham are behaving differently in this transfer window and it’s in large part down to the presence of the new stadium.
During the time spent playing at Wembley while the new ground was being built, the costs of that construction seemed to weigh heavily on the club. Famously, Spurs failed to buy a single player last summer and then did not add any new recruits in January either. Players needed to be sold before others could come in and in a slow transfer market, those sales failed to materialise.
After such a long time without buying a player, it was natural that fans were concerned that Tottenham would operate in the same way that they had is recent windows. Waiting for players to be sold before bringing in new ones. Haggling endlessly over fees and then missing out on the target. Buying players which improve the squad but not necessarily the first choice team.
All those fears were swept away on 2nd July, when Spurs announced two signings. Jack Clarke was signed for £10m and then loaned back to Leeds, the team that he’d been bought from. Then Tanguy Ndombele was announced later on in the day, breaking the club’s transfer record.
Clarke’s arrival heralded a return to the formula of buying young English talent from lower league clubs, as proved so successful in the past with the likes of Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Dele Alli. Ndombele’s signing seems more groundbreaking. The suggested fee of £55.45m plus £8.97m in possible add-ons, looks to be close to Lyon’s original asking price. That Tottenham were willing to get to that price point so quickly, enabled a new signing to enjoy the benefits of Mauricio Pochettino’s pre-season training regime. In the ENIC era, new signings have often arrived very late on in the window.
Ndombele is sure to be a vital part of Pochettino’s team. As absurd as it may seem, the last time the club signed a player that looked certain to be part of the first choice starting XI, rather than a mere squad player who might perhaps challenge for such a spot over time, was when Spurs signed Toby Alderweireld way back in 2015.
Rumours suggest that Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon could soon be added to Pochettino’s options. If they and potentially others do come in, it would rank as Tottenham’s most exciting transfer window in many years.
So what’s changed? There’s a number of factors that have contributed to an apparent shift in philosophy. The team’s run to the Champions League final brought in an unexpected windfall. Pochettino’s stock is so high that the club risked losing him without investment. Not signing anyone in the last two windows has left money in the bank.
Yet rising above all of these reasons in much the same way it rises up over the buildings that surround it, is the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. In the planning stages since 2007, it took some twelve years to finally come to fruition and for the doors to open. During that time it drained money from the club.
It will take further years to fully repay the costs of the stadium build, but now that it is open it has already started to prove it’s worth. Not just as a symbol of a club on the up, but as a money-making machine.
The food and drink facilities surpass anything available at any other football stadium. It has fundamentally changed habits of supporters already, with fans arriving earlier and leaving later, as they take advantage of public spaces, better quality products and short waiting times. Tottenham hospitality is also unrivalled, with the club attracting high-rollers with Michelin Star Chefs and private members clubs.
Match day revenues have soared. The key to Spurs ensuring that the stadium gives them an advantage over their Premier League rivals is using this unique ground for other events. There’s no doubt that the capacity crowd that watched Tottenham in the Champions League final via live feed, will have got Levy thinking. The stadium will be used to host the North London derby in the Women’s Super League. Tickets are likely to be cheap, to entice a big crowd that will spend plenty once inside.
Then there are the two scheduled NFL games that will take place each year, Saracen’s annual ‘Big Game’ and European rugby finals from 2021. Boxing is likely to take place there also, with promoter Eddie Hearn having claimed that it was in the running to host an Anthony Joshua fight. No concerts have been announced yet, but the quality of the acoustics in the stadium and the ease with which the pitch can be replaced with a hard surface, make this an inevitability.
Spurs’ finances will still be something of a juggling act, but the early success of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has given the club the confidence to act differently. The hard work in developing and building the best stadium in the world has been done. From now on things get easier and is already manifesting itself in the way that is most important to fans – the team is getting better.