The state we’re in – In response to the Guardian’s article


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The Guardian yesterday published an interesting piece by their football finance expert David Conn that gave a summary of each Premier League clubs accounts plus a brief bit of commentary headlined the ‘State they’re in’ (Liverpool “Appalling”, Man Utd – “Scandalous”).  As is the nature of these things, the figures used in the article are slightly behind the times in that ‘all details are from the most recently filed official information at Companies House’ which apart from the odd exception is to the end of May or June 2009 so doesn’t include last season at all.

Concentrating on Spurs, Conn hedges his bets giving us neither a thumbs up or down. We are ‘apparently thriving’ but then there are lots of qualifiers as to what our real state might be as opposed to our perceived one. He makes the point that how we have financed Redknapp’s spending or intend to fund the new stadium has yet to be revealed. Presumably the 09/10 accounts will show all. Or at least a bit more anyway.

Conn puts our level of debt at £80m, which surprised me for one. There’s no explicit statement as to who we owe the money to, just a general ‘Debts are borrowings from banks, financial institutions, owners or other sources’. Given this it’s probably correct to assume that the main creditor is ENIC. Last year’s equivalent report showed our debt as £65m, so a substantial increase. Still debt isn’t everything. Arsenal are reported as owing £104m but can ‘claim the rudest financial health in the Premier League’. Presumably this is because they show obvious signs of how they intend to pay off the money. The large home attendances at the new Library helped them to declare the highest ever turnover by an English club. Contrast their £316m to Burnley’s £11m (though the latter was whilst in their promotion season in the Championship) and then try and string together a sentence involving the words ‘level’ and ‘playing field’. (Our turnover was £113m, down from £115m last time out.)

Conn makes the point that whatever the funding policy at Spurs is, it seems to be working as it’s got us to fourth place and a place in the Moneybags league which will increase our earnings next season and that’s even without the new TV deals kicking in. We paid 53% of our turnover in wages (which though large, was third lowest) and made the second highest amount of profit with £33m. Only six clubs recorded a profit. Our wage bill was £60m, lower than West Ham at £67m and Aston Villa with £71m. Chelsea’s was £167m. Blimey!

So all in all (and bear in mind that I’m no accountant), if one assumes that the ‘mysterious’ unrevealed funding is above board (and that’s a fairly dangerous thing to do in football these days), our finances look in good shape and with a run in Champs League to hopefully come, will only get better in the short term at least. How the new stadium is financed is obviously crucial.

The full article is available on The Guardian’s website,


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  1. I am no financial expert either,but I do know that a PLC has to be transparent in its operations. If the Guardian really need to look at the financial situation at Spurs it should be far easier than sifting through the murkier waters of any other of the Premiership teams. We made huge profits previously mainly thanks to the benevolence of Liverpool and Man Utd, who effectively lessened our debt to increase their own. My understanding the new stadium project is self financing,though I for one would like a little more clarity before resting easy on that one. We're a very well run business, with some fairly shrewd cookies at the helm, and again I'd like to point out the patently obvious, which is if there was even the merest sniff of impropriety at the Lane, our 'friends' in Fleet Street would have been on it in a flash!

  2. Well, according to many sources, Arsenals debt is closer to £234 million. We have virtually no debt, where has this £80m come from? Seems like a pretty crappy article to me, Spurs are the best run club in the league by a mile. Also, if every respectable newspaper in the world is to be belived, UTD have the largest turnover in the UK followed by Chelsea!

  3. According to many sources in the city Ars*nal are in real trouble with debt, as OB1 said they owe at least £234 mill many even say its closer to £250 mill.

    And we have little to no debt, how this guy has picked £80 mill out of the sky is ridiculous. The club is run like a business, a very tight ship indeed. There is not a chance that sort of debt has been accumulated by us. But I guess thats what you get for reading the Guardian…..utter nonsense.

    • Interesting – can I ask where are your figures from that detail we have no or little debt?

      Not saying I don't believe you but David Conn is an extremely well respected journalist who has specialised in this particular area of football for a number of years now, it'd be extremely unlike him to pull numbers 'out of the sky'.

  4. Of course Spurs have some debt, a new £30m training ground is being built, and almost £70m has already been spent on our new stadium/complex, buying up land and planning applications etc., Spurs are a very well run business but we do have some debt of approximately £65m, a very manageable debt that we service with great ease.


    really good article concerning the state of Tottenham's finances. Puts the lie to the claim that we're hugely profitable. Our biggest income generator for the past few seasons has been player sales, which have done a lot to offset player acquisitions of which have been our biggest source of expenditure. With the potential television revenues and gate from CL competition, we have the ability to generate greater revenue, not to mention the financial windfall that comes with higher exposure. Kids in North America buying Tottenham shirts, for one. This potential revenue, however, hinges entirely on our ability to compete at a high level and cannot be taken for granted.

    80 million debt is actually a fairly manageable number, considering the level of assets and revenue potential. There simply is no such thing as a business the size of your average football PLC that operates with no debt.

  6. FFS. The debt is the money spent on the training ground and partly the aquisition on the land and applications or the stadium. In turn the debt is actually in the form of long term bonds and loans that the rather clever City honcho and first in economics from Cambridge Levy has worked out.

    Where do we get our money from? Well the clue might be the bit that says our profit is £33 million. See how that works there?

    I fail to see how this can't be understood. Sell player, use money to buy other player. Lower wage bill, sell more than you buy, increase ticket prices, new shirt every season = profits. It doesn't make us wealthy, it makes us well run.


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