It was a frustrating Transfer Deadline Day for West Ham. Despite being linked with several players and hours of negotiations, sadly no new faces appeared at Chadwell Heath before the window slammed shut.
Emmanuel Adebayor was apparently one of those potential faces and it’s arguably a shame that a deal didn’t get over the line. Big Sam is the type of manager to get a player like that playing and scoring; he’s a very decent centre forward when he can be bothered. We are told that the reason the Togolese striker didn’t become a West Ham player is because of a very late intervention by Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy.
Apparently Levy refused to subsidise the wages of a player playing for a direct rival. Brilliant, I thought, Levy sees West Ham as direct rivals for position in the Premier league and that shows just how far we’ve come this season. But, actually, I think it goes a bit deeper than that, and I contend that not only does Levy see us as rivals in terms of finishing places this season, but he sees us as long-term rivals. He can see a bright and a big future for West Ham United and I suspect he doesn’t like it.
Why does he see us as a threat? Tottenham have been one of the highest spending clubs in the Premier League over the last decade or so and they haven’t really had the sort of success that such massive investment ought to have brought. Since Financial Fair Play has been introduced it is no longer as easy for a benefactor to inject liquidity in the way Joe Lewis has done at White Hart Lane for a number of years. Clubs are now much more reliant on generating their own revenue, which is one of the reasons why Spurs have been desperate for a new stadium for the last few years. What Levy may see for West Ham’s future is another club on their doorstep which will have the ability to generate more revenue than Tottenham. I think he is concerned that West Ham will become a bigger club than Tottenham and therefore take revenue they might otherwise be able to generate themselves.
Why should the size of West Ham concern Levy? Thinking medium to long term Levy might be concerned that West Ham will attract the new generation of fans. Indeed, if young children see West Ham having more potential to make the Champions League or to be a force in England and Europe perhaps they would be more likely to become followers of West Ham? The bigger West Ham become the more attractive a prospect they become for the corporate fan too. With the launch of “Club London” the Hammers have made a big play in this area and will be hoping to become one of the destinations of choice for the money-men when they do their entertaining on a Saturday, this is of course somewhere that Tottenham would also hope to be able to generate future revenue and Levy probably sees West Ham as direct competition in this regard.
It is likely that this was one of the reasons that Levy and Tottenham decided a couple of years ago that they might like to move into the Olympic Stadium, when it seemed it was already a foregone conclusion that it was the future home of West Ham. There would have been a few good reasons why Levy did what he did at that time, I’m convinced one of them was that he was trying to put pressure on Haringey Council to approve plans for development at White Hart Lane, but like the Hammers Board he could also see the potential for our club, and he did not like it.
During the bidding process there was a lot of mudslinging and skulduggery. Karen Brady bought a High Court action, investigators hired by Tottenham were fined, and there was “spy gate” when Brady’s telephone records were obtained by subterfuge. The investigators were eventually fined and Prosecutor Mark Dennis QC said at the trial that the illegal activity caused “embarrassment and potential harm” to Tottenham, which most likely would not have gone down well with the clubs Chairman.
All of the above meant relations were far from cordial between the two clubs. Accusations of wrong doing were made by both sides but it was West Ham who were eventually confirmed as preferred bidders and subsequently given the go ahead to become tenants of the Olympic Stadium. Tottenham’s plans for a new stadium on the current site of White Hart Lane are still not running smoothly and it is possible that Levy looks eastward with envy. West Ham will be in their new stadium soon with a significantly bigger capacity than White Hart Lane, with Club London up and running and generating revenue and hopefully, if current form can be sustained, sitting in a decent position in the Premier League and therefore in a position to attract decent playing talent; the type of talent that might also be on the Spurs’ radar.
I do not know Daniel Levy and have never met him, I am of course surmising the reasons for why he might hold West Ham in low regard and why as co-Chairman David Gold put it “there are people out their [sic] that you just can’t do business with.” As a West Ham fan I just find it incredibly flattering that he seems to see us as such a major threat both currently and in the future.