Does being respected count for anything in the world of football?

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I have no respect for Manchester City and even less for Chelsea – their achievements being bought and paid for by foreign billionaires, transforming them from a pair of also-rans to Premiership superpowers.

This really came home to me a couple of years ago in two contrasting events. The first was during the closed season a couple of years ago. Chelsea were having one of their regular managerless moments (by the way, they do say that within 15 years everyone will be standing no more than 300 yards from a former Chelsea manager), yet, despite having no one at the helm Chelsea mounted a #40 million bid for Luca Modric . Clearly it was Roman Abramovich himself who had decided to buy him.  What a rich man’s plaything Chelsea is.

The next event happened in the ensuring season during the Man City match at WHL. Whilst City’s bunch of overpriced mercenaries were turning us over, their fans forsook their only song (‘Blue Moon’) in favour of the repeated chanting of Sheikh Mansour’s name. In over 50 years of supporting Tottenham, I have never heard an owner’s name chanted. Clearly their fans recognised where their win was coming from.  Never mind the players, let’s thank the money! I watched all their fans’ wild celebrations and regarded their win as hollow and meaningless. For all the money the Club had spent, they should be much better than us. (Although I have to admit it did make our 3-1 against them last season all the more pleasurable).

So now the Premiership is sharply divided between the haves and have-nots – with the rich clubs cherry-picking the talent from around the world and the other teams left to fight for the leftovers.  The platinum chequebooks wielded by billionaire foreign investors has pushed player prices and wages into the stratosphere – making even average players unaffordable to those team without a Sugar Daddy.  No wonder Daniel Levy hesitates over risking big money on players who are unproven in tough competitive leagues.

I know I sound like one of those wingeing old farts who sit behind you and rambles on and on about how the game used to be, but I find the whole situation immensely sad. The playing field is no longer level and it’s football that is the sufferer.  Winning is everything and entertainment is a bonus if you’re lucky.

A friend of mine Colin Shindler, a lifelong Skyblues fan and a terrific writer,  wrote a best selling  book  about his beloved City titled ‘Manchester United Ruined My Life’. He is deeply saddened by how his Club has sold out. His follow up book is called ‘Manchester City Ruined My Life’.

I once ‘phoned into TalkSport radio to air to talk about this subject and Stan Collymore said “If Roman Abramovitch took all his money out of Chelsea and put it into Spurs, would that make you happy?” My reply was that I thought it tragic that we should even have to talk in those terms – that if you haven’t got a big old wad of foreign investment, you can’t play in the same back yard as the rich kids.

So here is my question to you:  If some billionaire did indeed buy Spurs and gave the manager an open chequebook, would that make you thrilled or would you feel it would belittle any resulting achievements ? Does having the respect of the footballing world count for anything these days? I’d be interested to hear where you stand.

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40 COMMENTS

  1. This is a sport that for years has had no ‘properness’ and every club that agreed or pushed for the creation of the Premier League is to blame for what it has become (including Spurs) as everything since has been the evolution of that lust for more money. It doesn’t really matter if you respect anyone, their fans aren’t going to enjoy it less, nor will Spurs fans if a reach American or Emirati ever decides to take over and sign Ronaldo.

  2. Respect means nothing when the whistle blows, Manchester City's moto 'Pride in Battle' says it all. Wayne Rooney trying to break James Milners legs in the last Manchester derby says it all, if respect was important players on the same national side wouldn't try to break their fellow national team mates legs.

    • God what a moron. The reason Rooney tried to break James Milners legs had nothing to do with respect. It had to do with him being a yob.

  3. I don't respect anything Man United have done because they did it all by spending billions and then mock everyone else for doing the same, why should anyone respect Man United, Real Madrid or AC Milan when their fans are so far up their own backsides and don't respect anyone but their own.

  4. The whole of the football world respects spurs, champions of England as recently as 1961 no less. On this basis could never be described as also rans

  5. Brilliant, I've been saying that almost all of the trophies Man U, Chelsea and Man C have won since the Premiership was born are, in fact, bought not won. This thing of tapping up a player under contract has got to be stopped. The media has to be regulated about the stories they manufacture. It's scandalous. Platini says he's doing his best to give fair play, but when the President and staff of Real Madrid is able to tap up our players publically and nothing is done by Platini, his words on fair play are hollow. I'm glad Tottenham are progressing and Levy deserves praise for his love and loyalty to the club as well as his 'knowhow' about investment, although some of the error of judgement he has made recently has been amateurish. We actually have a billionaire owner, but he's no 'sugar daddy', which sometimes I regret and sometimes (when we beat the rich boys) I think 'that's right Mr Levy, let's play them off the pitch. I don't think this is going to last too much longer. I predict that if Mourinho doesn't deliver this time around Abramovitch will walk away and, you never know, others might lose interest then also.

  6. Moronic irrational posting. No wonder you are behind such laughable (not in the way you intended) "comedy" offerings. Spurs have done plenty of buying of success but like a typical plastic you only see what you want to see. Delusional. As for respect I have none for laughable Spurs plasitc fans like you. Were you a mercenary when you wrote for other "comedy" programmed or did you do it for love? Hypocritical clown.

    • Strange that, I've been a Spurs supporter for 37 years (but only had a season ticket for the last 20 of those). I can't recall us ever spending in excess of £200M in one season on player purchases, or paying any player over £100k + a week. It must have been before my time….

  7. I'd personally hate it if we had an open chequebook. City & Chelsea could field a fairly decent team just using their "flops" that they paid megabucks for & not only that, it goes against everything the club has stood for & been for it's entirety. The point is to work yourself into a position to be able to buy top class talent, and have them wanting to play for you're team, not just wanting the paycheck that comes with it. I think the worst thing is that players go their for the money, or because they've been sold some story by the clubs themselves and end up ruining players careers, but on top of everything, the worst thing about Chelsea & City fans is none of them any knowledge of the team before they became super rich, which just speaks volumes about the type of fans they get with the money. I'm proud to be a Tottenham fan, & I'm especially proud that even though we don't have the prestige that Man Utd do, or the money that Chelsea do, we can still compete with the best. Maybe not in terms of winning the title, but in a match, the money counts for nothing. TTID.

  8. I couldn't agree more that I feel man city and Chelsea success (also Blackburn in their day) was artificially bought and not built, and I agree if it happened at spurs I would feel that it would be a hollow victory, however I can't say I wouldn't love for spurs to be able to challenge and win prem/champions league, what I would like most to happen, is while I really believe levy has done a great job building a team which can compete and he has done that by buying young and selling at the right time to enhance the team carrick/berbetov/modric none of which have really done well elsewhere, we now have a team if we just rolled the dice and bought 2 top strikers we could challenge for title. It is frustrating to get so close and not spend big to finish the team off, if it went wrong and we didn't challenge he could then sell bale next year to balanc the books.

  9. We have the exact same thing here in the USA. Teams in New York and LA with their hundreds of millions payroll seem to get all the big stars. Yet every now and then, and seemingly more often lately, smaller, less star studded teams, beat the odds. All I can say is that it makes the success that much sweeter. I really think with a solid striker Spurs could actually stick the season rightup those rich (expletive deleted) foreign owners bums, and take the silver. YOu would here me cheering all the way from Minnesota. GO SPURS!

    • wow…a little defensive there methinks. Could it be that you know that with all your money you should be doing better. How many games did you win in CL? Oh that's right, NONE. An you blamed it on it being your first season in CL. As I remember it, our first season in the CL saw us through to the quarter finals. Still, you can always buy another team!

  10. I totaly agree. One of the reasons I’m so proud of my Spurs is there has never been any sign of us taking on one of those money bags. When the city sheik was looking for a nice shiny new toy to play with before he took over city he was enquiring about our beloved spurs. I can only say how thankful I am for whatever reason he moved on and left us to it. It to me is the most hollow of rises city have had. I never used to mind them, since the take over I have lost all respect for them. Its funny, I’m Australian, I just got back from living in England for four years. Football isn’t massive here, before I went to England if you saw someone wearing a football shirt here it was always one of the three despicable red ones or the odd royal blue one. When I arrived back after four years I was seeing those awful sky blue shirts everywhere. But do you want to know the shirt I see most often these days, the lillywhite, yes yes yes, but also no no no, I don’t want my club to be one of those bandwagon clubs. In a way I’m happy we Havnt pushed all the way yet, I like my club to be my little club who nobody’s ever heard of and can’t pronounce. Yes it is due mainly to bale, and ofcourse I want to see my club go all the way, but that’s where the respect comes from and it shows people like to watch good football, and on a good day that’s what our lads give the world.

  11. Oh Brian, you are speaking my language. And what makes it worse are people like Adrian Durham who bang on about so and so should move to a bigger club so "they can win things." What about staying with your club and helping THEM win things. You say you may be thought of as an 'old fart', well I AM an old fart-well old anyway. I remember our legendary team of 1949 through to the mid fifties. Players of the calibre of Ditchburn,Ramsey,Burgess,Medley, didn't agitate to leave because we were in the old 2nd division, they got us out of it and became 1st division champions the
    following season.I'm afraid Brian it's symptomatic of the attitude through the country today. Money is King. Style,class,and so on are to be laughed at. See i am an old fart

  12. How much of Spurs does Joe Lewis actually own? I am not sure of that, but he does not treat the club as his personal plaything. I too feel than the cities and chelskies (you also have to include PSG, Monaco etc.) of this world are driving football into a place where we don't want to be. Huge fees and wages for nothing more than average players – which of the regular clubs can compete with that? However, to answer your question, I think I'd feel in some way betrayed. I want Spurs to compete on a level playing field.

  13. As much as it's all sadly true about the money, it's still fascinating that how Spurs have proven that it's not the be all and end all by being in and around the top four for some years now by buying the right players to make a team, and that the premier league can still put these mercenary teams in their places when a genuine team beats them.

  14. Personally Brian I would hate it. I'd rather Spurs earn glory, not buy it. I totally agree with you on the above. Too much money is spoiling the game. Do you know what the REALLY sad thing about it all is? If this kind of spending continues, and player prices keep on rising, there will come a day when footballers with real talent won't be able to play the game, due to ridiculous amounts of money being demanded for them.

    Unless the super rich clubs intend to buy up all the world class footballers, then watch them rot on the bench, if they are lucky! That sounds familiar… "Yes we have over 250 world class players on our books" blah, blah, blah. Shame you can only pick 25 for each season though!!

    The smaller clubs will not be able to afford transfer fee's/player wages etc. So it could be sooner, rather than later, that we start seeing the next Wayne Rooney stacking shelves in a supermarket, not that there is anything wrong with that, you just don't get paid £100k plus a week for doing it!!

    COYS

  15. Professional sports. Anything goes. Every professional sport has its have much and have lesser. You can whinge about it but it is tough. It is the way of the world. Man City / Chelsea has the resources. Barcelona and Real Madrid walk their league because they have the recources and always will. Funnily Tottenham havs resources that Aston Villa, Norwich can only dream off.

  16. I can never see us earning glory sad to say, We need a stadium and someone in charge who thinks four strikers not two are needed in a long season. I would love to start the season aiming for the title as we used to and not aiming for fourth place. 1 league cup in 12 years says it all about Levy. Time the big boys took over. Not how I want it to be, but how it is.

  17. Brian, as a fellow ‘The Spurs Web’ author, I hope that bias doesn’t shine through this, but I have to say I thought this was an excellently written and passionate article!

    And I agree! You had me at “rich man’s plaything”.

    The presence of money has warped our beautiful game beyond recognition, the days of Tottenham bringing stars of the games like Villa and Ardiles to the Lane are long since past.

    I for one, am pleased that the integrity of Tottenham’s transfer policy has not been breached by the provision of endless funds, and the vacuousness of subsequent success I’m sure, after all of the clamour of success has subsided, must leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth that it has not been achieved through footballing wiles, but through the riches of numerous Midas’, whose very touch is turning the game into disaster.

    Maybe the American’s, with all the glitz and glamour of their ‘football’ do have something right: the weakest get first choice, the strongest the last. No team has the opportunity to monopolise talent to the degree the football supporting world has to endure season after season!

    • Your owner is a currency speculator its just he doesn't feel your small north London club with small time fans aren't worth the effort of investing in. Even pathetic Arsenal are more ambitious than you lot. You deserve AVB and his bullshit bingo sessions with the Press.

      You wont even make the Europa league this season.

      Almost all your best players have been bought into the club its just you lot have small time memories.

  18. Spurs the first football league club to become a PLC in order that they could circumvent football League rules that had stood the game in great stead for years. Its the likes of Spurs that caused the current financial situation.

    Spurs owned by Joe Lewis who lives in the Bahamas to avoid tax. £4.2 billion fortune but wont spend it on Spurs. A currency speculator.

    You Spurs "fans" know nothing. You are just bitter you do not great owners like City.

    Now how many of Spurs team came through their youth system? Nada. They are buying their MASSIVE success. Without Bale they would be relegation candidates

    Dump of a ground in a dump of a place.The only good things to come out of London are the motorways.

    • Just a couple of the youth team players that were part of the first team squad list submitted to the FA for last season.

      Walker
      Caulker
      Bale (bought as a youth player, as Southampton said he was too small to ever make it)
      Danny Rose (17 yr old youth player, from Leeds)
      Jake Livermore
      Andros Townsend
      Thomas Carrol

      And Spurs weren't the first league team to go PLC either. But I'll let you check that out. it's quite ironic the team who did though :)

      Maybe next time you should know what you're talking about, before posting… Best thing to come out of the north =

  19. OK right, lets get something straight….i agree with Craig & Brian to a degree. IMO the only way forward is a wage cap….say today set it at £125k / week (example) but has to be world wide…..only to rise with inflation. There is so much talent being promised this and that and left on the bench with the odd sub apperance, thus we the football fan is missing out on seeing talent for who ever playing on a regular basis. Leading onto who ever, with certain caps on wages (with no big sign on fee or big agent fees that will dilute the purpose) it will make a players mind up more for his own footballing reasons and desire to play for the said club he prefers. I know the so called big boys will offer more for a player to the players existing club, but we all know that its player power it will give the option of same money and more playing time rather than well i'll try get into the team as afterall i will be getting £50k more / week!!!!!!

    • Wage cap Worldwide? What do you do with clubs like Monaco where players pay no tax? It just wont work. You are just trying to fix the market. Ask your owner why that doesn't work.

  20. Spurs respected? By who and why? Being constant also rans?

    Like Arsenal, Stoke, West Ham, Nottingham Forest etc etc etc? No better no worse.One of many. Speculate to accumulate.

  21. Roman considered Spurs before he bought Chelsea apparently. Had he actually done that deal, all you lot at WHL would have been over-f**king-joyed. You couldn't have changed it, you just would have loved to be along for the ride. That's all us Chelsea fans are. Personally, i've had a ten year erection. Long may it last!

    It's easy to whine "you ain't got no 'issstoreee" but that's just like saying "we used to be good but now we"re shite"
    Empire's rise and fall. It happens. With football clubs, and with actual empires. I ain't apologising to anyone for Roman lumping on at my club. I've fucking loved it. Cos, i've had a season ticket for 21 years straight and i HAVE seen the other side of the coin. I have got a history with my club. It might be different to yours, but if it is, then it's history.

    Any set of fans would be delirious when a billionaire rocks up. Look at Citeh fans wearing tea towels on their bonces live on Sky when the Sheik started lobbing his oil money around. Over the moon they were. But nowhere near as over the moon as when Aguerrooooo! struck in the 94th minute.

    You may think it's crude. You may think it's vulgar. But i know 99% of the chaps that used to stand on the Shelf, if it happened over there and a successful European adventure ensued, well they'd be pretty much ticketty-fucking-boo.

  22. Your article is too one sided and not entirely based on fact.

    Since the advent of the premier league Chelsea’s expenditure on players has been £867,000 compared with Tottenham’s £490,000 so the chasm in expenditure on players between the two clubs is not as great as your article suggests. These figures suggest to me that before Roman’s arrival in 2003, Tottenham had spent more on players than Chelsea and Roman’s money only served to level the playing field and even allow Chelsea to overtake Tottenham. Perhaps that’s what is rankling you? Also Roman’s money has also been invested in the youth academy and it’s facilities. Granted young players have not flourished but not for the lack of trying. Why doesn’t your article touch on any of these issues to make it more balanced and objective? I’m impressed by your script writing CV so if you are such an educated man then why haven’t you put more thought into your piece instead of just jumping on the ‘Chelski’ bandwagon?

    • The point of my piece was not to present a balanced viewpoint but to encourage a debate. My own position is stated pretty clearly and I make no apologies for that. I also understand both the Chelsea and Man City fans position. But, for me, both teams successes are falsely achieved and their financial practices have warped . Apart from the outlay on players which is, as you rightly point out, is around 40% more on Chelsea's side, there is also the wage structure. Spurs have always had a strict wage structure and no player earns over £90k a week. These are the sort of financial strictures that most clubs have to impose if they are to stay in business. No such cap exists at Chelse or at Man City and so they are able to attract big name players. I fear we must agree to differ on this subject.

      • However, I just can’t buy into the theory that Spurs fans wouldn’t appreciate a rich foreign benefactor. I think the majority of fans would embrace it in the same way that Chelsea and Man City fans have. What would be their alternatives? Stop supporting the club? Demonstrate against the new owner? Unfortunately many fans of Premiership are cut from the same cloth and when the new money is buying celebrity footballers and the club is winning trophies then any gripes are soon forgotten.

  23. Respect means a lot as far as I am concrned. I would much rather be a Tottenhamn fan getting where we are in the right way than a team like Manchester City or Chelsea who just buy success because they have got super rich owners. At the end of the day whatever little we acheive we fully deserve and a whole lot more. Can Chelsea and Manchester City say the same.

    • Yes. Do you think we enjoyed that memorable day in May 2012 any less because we have rich owners?

      Nope. We’re still buzzing about it. And it doesn’t feel tainted or tarnished in any way. We only did what others have done before us and the only way to win the Premier League – spend big.

  24. Premier League football, eventful and well-financed, yes, but so many football supporters remember pre-1992 competition between clubs that saw a wider range enjoy success, even if only for one or two glorious seasons, that made each season's cup winners and league champions in the divisions celebrated and respected nationwide. Everton, Ipswich, Nottingham Forest, Wimbledon, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Derby County all won things, while the four that have dominated the Premier League until recently won some things pre-1992 but in a number of years didn't feature any more than anyone else. Once money ruled, when not one but four clubs each season got into the Champions League and it was usually the same four, so big differences in revenue soon distorted the EPL. Which environment enabled anybody who had made their money by whatever dubious means to bid to take over football clubs.

  25. You are a fool to have publicise this your stupid article. I know you are just writing this out of jelousy. Pray to have a rich owner. Or rather pray that your owner should put hand into his pocket and splash for better player. Grow up.

  26. Great article knowlegably written, love your work brian, but the moment money is mentioned, the worst comes out of most of us.

    The tactic of buying up players to deny competition access to them is as relevant as iss the fact that players move on to higher wages under a variety of weak excuses. In Grand Prix, keeping a level playing field for the wealthy and not so wealthy is an ongoing task.

    However if anyone can look at the world around them with a clear concience while condoning the amount of money spent by Chelsea and Man City on contracts and wages, then they are missing the ethical and moral point of life entirely.

  27. I guess pragmatically the rich clubs will always buy the best from the rest, spurs do it top poorer clubs all the time. The reason we hate it is that it ruins the illusion that success is earned in some way by the fans. it feels like a shortcut to a journey, and it feels cheap. It’s all an illusion, the table of wages is remarkably similar to the table of points (anomalies usually more qpr like than Swansea like).

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