Category Archives: Spurs Chat

Q&A: Your questions answered on the new Spurs stadium and the state of the club’s finances

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Charles Richards / @spurs_report

I have written extensively about the new Spurs stadium and finance issues on this blog for the past two years. I get a steady stream of questions from Spurs fans keen to know more about the stadium, and the club’s financial health. In particular, the jump in construction costs to £800m has caused a considerable amount of concern.

Borrowing the idea from more imaginative bloggers, I asked my Twitter followers to send in their questions — and boy did you. I had more than 40 questions, *most* of which were serious. I’ve grouped the questions into subjects, and tried to answer as many as I can.

NAMING RIGHTS

@KarnaRohit
Any chance we can still have it called White Hart Lane ? How much are the naming rights going for ?
@hertfordlilly
How far off are we from finalising naming rights? This year’s performance must mean we are in a stronger bargaining position?

There is zero chance the new stadium will be called White Hart Lane — well, unless you have £300m burning a hole in your back pocket and want to buy the rights for the next 10 to 15 years. Daniel Levy has made clear, from the outset of this project, that Spurs will look to sell naming rights, and nothing will make him deviate from this plan. It is an integral part of the project funding.

In terms of naming rights, we’re now into the window of when the club may announce it. Levy has previously stated that a deal is typically agreed after the midway point in construction: sponsors want to know the stadium is going to be delivered on time and as specified. In terms of an “optimum” time — you think once demolition of old White Hart Lane is complete, this would be the time to do it. That should be around September — but it is just conjecture. The announcement that Spurs were renewing the AIA partnership until the end of 2022 suggested there won’t be a joint shirt-stadium sponsorship arrangement such as Arsenal have with Emirates. It seems unlikely Spurs would agree to a short extension with AIA if a naming rights deal weren’t signed and sealed.

Whenever I tweet the words “naming rights”, a bunch of people say “it’s going to be Nike”. I’m pretty confident it won’t be — it’s a building, not a superstar striker. I wrote about naming rights a while back, and urged caution on what Spurs could expect — the talked-about £30m per year seems extremely optimistic. I hope I’m proved wrong — Spurs have picked a good time to go up a level in league performance, and the NFL tie-in may appeal to some companies.

WEMBLEY

@njs10
Are we going to make more money next season at Wembley vs last season at WHL and how does that compare to season after at new stadium?
@jakemrich3
How will Wembley affect revenue? If we get nothing from food but how much of ticket sales do we get and will it counter the rent?

It is extremely hard to forecast what impact playing at Wembley will have on Tottenham’s bottom line. First, we don’t know how many tickets/hospitality packages Spurs will sell — maybe we’ll sell out every game, but I strongly doubt it — and second, we don’t know how much Spurs are paying. I’ve seen figures of around £20m per year bandied around. But do Wembley take a slice of ticketing income? And how are concession sales split? We just don’t know.

(Update: Spurs will NOT receive proceeds for concession sales. See comment below, with link to THST minutes)

However, we do know one thing: when full, Wembley is a cash cow, there’s a reason two Champions League finals and countless other major sporting events have been hosted there. If Spurs can come close to selling it out each week, and make a good stab at the corporate hospitality market, then, even with the rental fee subtracted, Spurs should easily exceed the modest £40m or so matchday revenue from White Hart Lane.

On the subject, here’s a fun fact: Daniel Levy once tried to buy Wembley. Talk about things coming full circle.

WAGES

@WindyCOYS
Do you have a feel for (or better, actual info) whether our players are *actually* underpaid compared to similar players at wealthier clubs? And, if so, how long will we need at new WHL before we can expect to see increase in wage spending (i.e. how long did it take other clubs)?
@m13tul
Revenue 2 wages we have always been 40% to 48%. If we try and up that figure to 55% will it make enough of a impact and what is he downside

Spurs had a wage bill of £100m in 2016, and revenue stood at £209m. The average wage bill of the other top six was £211m. Quite simply, Spurs have been playing in a different league to the other five teams, and it only underlines what a remarkable job Mauricio Pochettino has done.

However, things change quickly.

In the coming years, Tottenham’s revenue is going to soar: the next accounts will show Champions League revenue and the new PL deal (income from the latter alone will jump from £95m to £148m). From next season, we’ll have the additional income from Wembley, as well as another season of Champions League football. After that we should be into our new stadium and all the additional revenue that comes with that. There will also be the uptick from the next kit deal.

By my (very rough) projection, Tottenham’s revenue should jump to around £275 million next season, and the only way afterwards is up. Of course, Spurs will have stadium financing costs to absorb, but there is significant scope to increase the wage bill as required.

Spurs aren’t standing still. In the current accounting period, 13 Spurs players have signed new contracts, while Champions League participation likely will have triggered significant bonuses.

Are Spurs players underpaid? Sure they are — every single one could dramatically increase their earnings if they moved to another top six club. Ultimately, Chelsea and Man City are billionaire playthings and will always be able to offer more than a rationally run club such as Spurs. But Spurs, with every window that goes by, will be in a better position to compete. While we’re offering Champions League football, a chance to compete for trophies and be part of a close-knit and ambitious squad, plus the best manager in the league, we’ve got points in our favour too.

I don’t think the relatively low wages is just a case of Daniel Levy driving a hard bargain, Pochettino also appears to have made a virtue out of keeping a relatively fair balance of incomes among the squad. This will remain true through the years ahead — you’ll see the likes of Dele, Eric Dier and Harry Kane regularly sign new contracts, each time bumping them higher and higher, creating new ceilings. If Kyle Walker moves to Manchester this summer, it will be spun as “Spurs can’t afford to keep Walker”; but actually the situation is far more complex. Walker allowed his head to be turned, in the heat of a title race — for Pochettino, this may be an unforgivable breach of the team ethic by a player who is ultimately relatively easily replaced.

As for wage-to-turnover ratio, actually for Spurs it has rarely been in the 40 to 48 percent bracket. Generally, in the last decade, it has been between 50 to 60 percent. It topped out at 65 percent in 2013 — spending more on wages is no guarantee of success.

Spurs are hoping to bring it to about 45 percent through the stadium construction phase — but ultimately, keeping this special squad together has far greater financial benefits than whatever savings could be made achieving that ratio.

You can read my analysis of the 2016 accounts here, and I explored the issue of balancing stadium and on-pitch success here.

OWNERSHIP

@stevecco
THFC in unprecedented position for title challenge. Balancing the books is laudable but why is the owner so reluctant to dip into own pocket

I’m guessing, the photos that spread about “Uncle” Joe Lewis’s new yacht didn’t go down too well?

As Spurs majority owner, Lewis has been consistent through his tenure: he doesn’t speak, and he doesn’t put significant money into the club. Spurs has always been an investment — ENIC stands for English National Investment Company. It’s been a hugely successful one. When ENIC first bought a 27% share in 2001, the deal valued Spurs at around £81m. The value now is comfortably above £1 billion.

Lewis’s worth is estimated at around $5.7bn, per Forbes, but, there has never been any indication that it is for spending. Nothing is going to change at this point. Personally, I’m fine with the current ownership — Lewis isn’t extracting money from the club in dividends, or borrowing against its assets personally, while Daniel Levy is an experienced and competent chairman who cares about the club. Success earned is far more satisfying than success bought — whether it’s dodgy Chinese tycoons, unpleasant Qataris or spivs pretending to be billionaires, be careful what you wish for.

DEBT

@FrankMersland
How huge is the clubs debt stipulated to be when the stadium is built? And how much to be paid in annual mortgage/interest?
@jilllewis33
Seen suggestion Arse made big thing of making funding streams public while we’ve been more secretive. Any cause for concern/funding gaps?
@Phon1k
We will be the most indebted football club in the world when the stadium opens, cant uncle joe lewis just pay it all off?

The simple — and scary — answer: we don’t yet know how big the debt will be, or how much it will cost each year. Spurs have agreed a £350m funding package with three banks, and this will be the main element of the finance. But, with costs set to top £800m, more money is going to need to be found. Naming rights and future ticket sales are the main two elements to add to the funding mix — but it’s not clear how much Spurs will actually be able to bring in and if another debt facility may be required. By my (very rudimentary) assessment, Arsenal’s finance cost peaked at £47m, and hovered around £40m for four years before being refinanced to a lower annual payment. Arsenal pay around £20m per year on their Emirates “mortgage”. Spurs will likely pay more as we are borrowing more, but it’s impossible to say how much it will be until the details are known. We’ll get our first look in the next accounts. In terms of length, think the mortgage on your house — this will be a long-term arrangement.

The transparency question is an interesting one. There’s a balance to be struck between keeping fans informed and protecting commercial information; Spurs will reliably err on the side of the latter. It’s just part of Levy’s personality, and isn’t going to change. The club has said it will announce the funding package, and I would expect it to explain the financing costs when the annual report is published. But we’re not going to get a running commentary, as the saying goes.

Will Spurs be the most indebted football club in the world? It depends how you measure it. Here’s a handy guide.

Manchester United’s net debt, at last recording, was £409.3m — Spurs may or may not end up topping this (I suspect Spurs will, not least as the club has already invested heavily in the training centre). United have that debt for the privilege of being owned by the Glazer family, while Spurs are going to have the best new stadium in the world. Technically, there’s a clear leader in the debt stakes — on paper at least, Chelsea owe Roman Abramovich £1.053bn.

And no, Uncle Joe isn’t paying off Tottenham’s debt.

NFL

@brits_endzone
Is the plan for the new stadium to be the home of the NFL London franchise (if it happens). If so do you think that’s good for spurs overall

Spurs have made clear they are building a home not just for themselves, but also for the NFL if the American league decides it wishes to put a franchise into London. The NFL has put a small amount of money in — around £10m up front plus a 20-game agreement that will be worth tens of millions — and has been actively engaged through the design and construction phase.

A year ago, I wrote that it appeared that the NFL was close to pushing the button on a London franchise, but there has been little in way of developments since then. There are major logistical hurdles: training, travel, tax, and those are just the things that begin with “T”. There’s another scenario, in which rather than having a franchise, the NFL plays a full eight-game schedule in London (or a full eight-game schedule overseas, including London, Mexico City and wherever else they take games). It works well with a 32-team league — each team plays overseas every other year, and loses a home game every four years. It gives London fans the chance to see regular NFL football, but without the risk of having to endure a terrible team such as the Jaguars on a permanent basis.

What does this mean for Spurs? The NFL deal is a winner as it guarantees that at least two of the 16 non-Spurs major event slots are used. Each one will probably be worth between £2m and £3m for Spurs, so the more they can get booked out, the better. The NFL connection may offer some marginal uplift in terms of naming rights, and modestly boost Tottenham’s profile in the USA. But if Cameron Carter-Vickers kicks on and represents Team USA regularly, that would probably be a far greater boost. If the NFL does decide it wants a franchise in London, then Spurs can help in other ways — for example in helping build a training facility, accommodating players, and so forth. Hotspur Way is becoming home-from-home for NFL players visiting the UK — they all head up there for marketing work, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has visited.

TRANSFERS

@ZevRoberts
How much money realistically do we have to spend in the coming transfer windows?

Whatever Spurs spend, it will be dwarfed by what the other members of the top six spend, and possibly a few of those below. But there is money to spend if needed — Spurs found £30m on deadline day last summer for Moussa Sissoko, for example. I’d expect Spurs to have around £30m to £40m net over the next couple of summers, plus whatever profits can be rolled in from player trading. This summer, there is £18m of Nabil Bentaleb money to spend, and likely a decent profit on Kevin Wimmer if he moves on. Plus there could well be Kyle Walker money to spend. On the one hand, we’re not going to spend as much as Manchester United or Manchester City; but on the other hand, we have far less work to do. There’s nothing that should stop Spurs competing for talented youngsters such as Ryan Sessegnon, or spending big to fill the troubled right-sided midfield position.

REVENUE

@mepfish
Current match day revenue is £40m vs Arse £100m. Post stadium build will we eliminate this differential?
@craig4589
Aside from incr revenue from ticket sales, what are the significant commercial opps the new stad brings? What extra revenue could we expect?
@lewkc1
How, specifically (like by revenue stream, can Spurs close the gap with other 5 and how does stadium help that?

The aim of the stadium isn’t to eliminate the gap in matchday revenue with Arsenal, it is to put Arsenal behind us. It’s not a design statement like Roman’s coliseum, if Chelsea’s new stadium is ever built: everything Spurs have done is about maximising revenue. Even without the NFL connection and facilities, it feels very American — designed to make you spend time there and open your wallet, whether you are in the South Stand, or in a Sky Box. Things have moved on a lot in the decade since the Emirates was built.

So aside from beers and burgers, how else can Spurs make money? There are 16 non-Spurs major events allowed each year, two of which are blocked out by the NFL. Spurs will want to fill as many of these as possible, earning between £2m to £3m a time. They may get some help from AEG to fill these slots. In addition, the club is marketing the stadium as a year-round destination, aiming to attract visitors to the Tottenham experience, restaurants and stadium tours; there will also, no doubt, be conferences hosted within the stadium. This will feel more tangible once the hotel and luxury housing is developed on the southern portion of the site — bless it, but Tottenham High Road is hardly Regents Street.

The area Spurs continue to lag most seriously is in commercial revenue. While Manchester United are a money-making machine, and Manchester City pump revenues to evade FFP, Spurs continue to fall further and further behind. The new Nike deal sums up the situation: a £30m annual fee brings parity with the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, but, seemingly out of nowhere, Chelsea tore up its Adidas deal and signed up with Nike for £60m per year. Spurs don’t seem aggressive or well-connected in this particular market, which is why I’m cautious on naming rights. For now, all Spurs can do is keep on winning and hope this brings new deals.

ACCESS

@basdaly How many Wheelchair Accessible Seats will there be in the New stadium ? Thanks

Per the planning documents, there will be 259 wheelchair spaces in the new stadium. In old White Hart Lane, there were just 51.

I’ve not yet seen confirmation of final number of wheelchair spaces as the seating configuration has been tweaked in the past two years. But, there’s no excuse for a brand new stadium in accessibility. If you look at the stadium cameras now, you can make out some of the areas for disabled fans — right in the centre, not tucked away in the corners.

The full section of the planning statement is here:

Screenshot 2017-05-22 at 9.48.24 PM

READINESS

@pasavito
What happens if new stadium isn’t ready in Aug 2018? Could we play in a stadium that is maybe 4/5′s complete? Would we be allowed to?

The stadium, quite simply, has to be ready. The aim is to be ready for July 2018 — that will enable test events to take place before the season starts, or, heaven forbid, something like Europa League qualification. If it slips into August, there are contingencies — Spurs could open the season with a block of away fixtures, similar to what Liverpool did last summer as their new stand was delayed. Essentially, this gives Spurs until mid September due to the international break. After that, if the stadium still isn’t ready, it would be a second year at Wembley. Daniel Levy has confirmed that there is a contingency arrangement in place for that scenario. Unfortunately, Premier League rules prevent a team from having two home stadiums in a season, so there’s no chance of switching after Christmas, say.

It won’t be possible to play in a partially finished stadium — Spurs will be building the sliding pitch underneath the south stand, so it simply won’t work. Perhaps there is some leeway in terms of internal fit-out, but it promises to be an enormously difficult and stressful 15 months.

In terms of markers, Levy has said that the roof should start to go on in late January/early February 2018. If this happens, things are looking good. Spurs are pretty much working around the clock — here’s hoping they don’t discover any rare newts under old White Hart Lane.

That’s all I have time for — thanks to everyone who sent questions in. If you are looking for answers to specific queries, try the iSpurs section of the club website, or the stadium minisite — there’s a lot of information online. Some I couldn’t answer! If it’s really gnawing away at you, hit me up on Twitter or in the comments — it’s always nice to talk Spurs in the long summer month between post-season and pre-season tours.

Is Mauricio Pochettino’s reputation for ‘giving the kids a chance’ deserved? A Q&A with @thfcacademy

josh-onomah

I was watching The Premier League Show on the BBC the other week and tweeting my praises about Mauricio Pochettino’s work at Spurs, when something unusual happened: dissent.

Understandably, this intervention caused a bit of a stir, but @thfcacademy stuck to his guns in the lively debate that followed on my timeline.

Sensing he may have one or two things to get off his chest, I got in touch with Ben, the man behind the @thfcacademy account, to ask if he wished to expand on his point in more detail. In 140 characters it is hard to make a counter-intuitive argument, but the more I thought about what Ben had said, the more I started to see his point of view.

So, I sent Ben a bunch of questions on the youth situation at Spurs, and he sent me back a bunch of answers. The full Q&A is below — dig in. It’s fascinating and covers a whole bunch of issues including playing time, loans, coaching and more. And yes, there’s a Marcus Edwards question in there too.

(For those who don’t know @thfcacademy, it’s a great account and consistently provides interesting news and perspective on youth issues. Give it a follow. And if you’re new to this blog, give me a follow too.)

A lot has been made of Tottenham’s reputation as a club that promotes talent. But this season and last, Harry Kane has been the only “homegrown” regular starter (and perhaps Danny Rose, depending on where you draw the line). Is Tottenham’s reputation justified?

I don’t think so. The fact that our talisman and two or three fringe squad members are academy products has created a distorted perception that our squad is full of them.

You created a bit of a stir on Twitter recently by suggesting that Mauricio Pochettino’s track record of bringing academy kids through at Southampton and Spurs may not be nearly as strong as many believe. What exactly did you mean by that?

He is a fantastic coach, there’s no doubt about that. His record at improving players, particularly British ones, is unrivalled. He gets a lot of praise for developing homegrown talent, and rightly so. But I think people struggle to differentiate/articulate between improving a first-team player and bringing through academy players. His record at the latter is underwhelming.

At Southampton, Shaw, Lallana & Ward-Prowse were already members of the first-team squad (by that I mean training with the seniors full-time *and* making semi-regular Premier League starts), they were considered genuine options, not time-wasting substitutes.

Kane, Bentaleb and Rose made their Premier League breakthroughs prior to Pochettino’s arrival. Did he improve them? Yes. Did they ‘break through’ under him? No.

Ryan Mason and Calum Chambers (both now at lesser clubs) are the two who have made the jump from their respective development squads to the first team under him. Two players in four years isn’t something to shout about.

Are there any specific players at Spurs, or Southampton, that you feel could have made the jump under Poch? Or is the broader issue that ultimately even these two clubs aren’t producing enough quality players?

Onomah and Winks would’ve been useful last season. Winks is a better player than Mason, as was evident in pre-season. I think there were moments throughout last season where Onomah’s crisp passing and dribbling would’ve helped the team too.

Whether accurate or not, is there a benefit in Pochettino’s reputation as a guy who “gives the kids a chance”, for example in attracting young talent to the club and incentivising those academy kids already on the books?

There is a definite belief throughout the academy that if you work hard and meet targets you will eventually be given a chance in the first-team, so yeah, that perception adds an extra bit of drive for academy boys.

It’s still quite early in the season, but are Harry Winks, Josh Onomah and Cameron Carter-Vickers playing enough football?

To put it simply, no. It’s great that they have the opportunity to learn from all the experience and knowledge at Spurs but there comes a point when they need to put it into practice or risk stalling as players.

Of all the signings this summer, the one that surprised me the most was Moussa Sissoko. The minutes he finds may well be at the expense of Onomah and Winks, which doesn’t sound ideal. Is there a risk that these two in particular get stuck, as so many kids at other clubs seem to be, in the vicious cycle of being too inexperienced to start, but not being able to gain that experience?

I think Sissoko gives the team a different option so I can understand the signing. But yeah, if you look at who is currently ahead of Onomah in the pecking order: Dele, Eriksen, Lamela, Sissoko, N’Koudou & Son, they’re all relatively young so it’s difficult to see when Onomah will get an opportunity.

It looks like the club have cleared the pathway for Winks, with only Dembele, Dier & Wanyama (possibly Dele & Eriksen too?) ahead of him in central midfield.

With Spurs challenging for the title and playing in the Champions League, every game seems huge at the moment. Is it just inevitable that the price of success is less youth development, or should Spurs be thinking long-term and continuing to prioritize it?

The academy players at Spurs are held in such high-regard I think it would be foolish not to prioritise bringing them through. I doubt Spurs will consistently be able to attract players who match the potential of the likes of Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Marcus Edwards and Oliver Skipp.

There appears to have been a change in policy on youth loans, with well-regarded youngsters being kept at Spurs rather than developing elsewhere. Listen to the likes of Kane and Mason, and they talk so positively about the loan experience in terms of their personal development. Are the current youngsters missing out?

I think every player should be treated differently. I don’t agree with the current philosophy of keeping all the A class talents in-house or Harry Redknapp’s philosophy of sending every single one of them anywhere and everywhere.

Every player is different. For example, there would be no point in sending Edwards to Wimbledon, but Kyle Walker-Peters would benefit hugely from a loan to MK Dons.

Karl Robinson at MK Dons sets his teams up in a similar style to Pochettino, I think it would be well worth the risk for KWP, or anyone else, possibly picking up some “bad habits” (Poch’s words not mine) under him with the learning experience of six months or a season in men’s football. He is too comfortable at U23 level, the remaining step in his development is to learn when it’s okay to dribble out of defence and when to play safe.

On the subject of Walker-Peters, while Carter-Vickers is now very much part of the first-team CB group and may now be ahead of Kevin Wimmer, KWP doesn’t seem to have made that step up yet to challenge Kieran Trippier. What’s your view on KWP?

He’s a fantastic prospect. He improved so much over the course of last season, developing into a more conventional full-back. Around January/February it was clear the U21 league was too easy for him, loans to Roda and Chesterfield were close but never finalised.

Since then it appears the lack of challenging football for him has hurt his game; he’s started this campaign in poor form and as a result has stopped training with the first-team on a regular basis.

I find, whenever Spurs U23s are playing, there are a lot of negative comments on Twitter about the job being done by Ugo Ehiogu. How fair is the criticism, or are fans guilty of applying first-team standards of scrutiny to a reserve-team coach?

The main objective of any youth coach is to improve and push the most talented players in the group, results aren’t important. But when you get to U23 level (in theory the penultimate step before senior football) part of that learning process has to be about winning and playing your part in a functional, organised team.

Last season his team was unbalanced and directionless. He played a number of players out of position, which can be valuable to individual development but should be done in the earlier stages of their careers.

This season the squad is so poor it would be unfair to blame him for results and performances. If you look at the teams he’s put out, I struggle to think of anything I would do differently. There are several players in that group who barely coped with U18 football.

Spurs lost U18 coach Kieran McKenna to Manchester United this summer. Is it hard to replace a guy like that, or do Spurs have a depth of youth coaching talent?

It’s not a big loss. McKenna was liked and respected by players and parents but there are plenty of coaches (internally and externally) who are capable of replacing him.

As fans, we desperately want to believe that all young talents will become regular starters and stars, but actually it is very rare. If you were a betting man, which of Winks, Onomah and CCV do you think is mostly likely to still be at Spurs and a regular starter age 25?

I’d guess Onomah and Winks will be regulars, Carter-Vickers will fall just short of that level.

And finally, the inevitable Marcus Edwards question. He’s clearly on the fast-track — is it realistic to expect that we may see him in the Premier League this season? And, jokes about Messi aside, how good can he be if he keeps his head screwed on?

I don’t think he has the stamina required to play for a Pochettino team yet, it’d be unrealistic to expect much from him over the next 12 months. He’s so talented, only his mentality or injuries will prevent him from becoming a star.

Thanks to Ben for answering my questions. You can follow him on Twitter here. For more Spurs chat, please give me a follow too.

Spurs Ladies captain Jenna Schillaci on three cup finals, life as a women’s footballer, and her love of THFC

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies v Charlton Athletic WFC: FA WPL South

She’s one of our own: Spurs Ladies captain Jenna Schillaci. Photo by Getty Images

In what is shaping to be a season to remember for Tottenham Hotspur, the feel-good factor isn’t limited to Mauricio Pochettino’s title chasers. Our women’s team also face a crucial month, one which offers the chance of glory.

In the weeks ahead, Spurs Ladies have not one, but THREE cup finals. This seemed like a lot of cup finals, so I wanted to find out more.

Spurs Ladies play in the Women’s Premier League Southern Division, the third tier of the women’s football pyramid in England. With just two games to play this season, the team is firmly in mid-table — sitting sixth out of 12th.

But if the league campaign is almost over, it’s a different story in the cups. We play Charlton in the Ryman Cup final on April 14, and Charlton again in the Capital Women’s Cup final on April 27. On May 8, the team travels to Kidderminster for the FA Premier League Cup final against Cardiff.

I got in touch with Jenna Schillaci, the captain of the team and a lifelong Spurs fan, to learn more about the big month ahead, and what life is like as a member of Spurs Ladies. She kindly agreed to answer my questions.

First, some links: You can find out more about Spurs Ladies here, and follow the official account on Twitter here. Ticket details for the Ryman Cup final (kick-off 7.45pm) are here, and you can follow Jenna on Twitter here.

Let’s talk about you. You are captain of Spurs Ladies: how did this come about, first in terms of getting into elite women’s football, and then joining Spurs?

Tottenham Hotspur Players Deliver Christmas Presents to Local Hospitals

Jenna on visit to North Middlesex hospital before Christmas. Photo by Getty Images

I started when I was around six years old. My dad set up a team that consisted of me and all my friends. I went to a Spurs trial in 2000 I think and went into the Ladies team when I was 16, I think I was the youngest at the time. I left to go to university and came back in 2009 when Karen (Hills, the manager) joined and have been here ever since. Three years ago I was made captain which is something I’m very proud of.

You play centre back and left back. You’re basically Jan Vertonghen, right? Tell me about your strengths as a player, and heaven forbid, any weaknesses?

I think I read the game well and have a good understanding of the game. I’m calm on the ball. My only weakness is I guess I’m getting a bit older and my hamstrings aren’t quite what they were!

From you bio, it is clear you are a proper Spurs fan. When did it start, who is your favourite player, and how often do you get to White Hart Lane?

I’ve grown up in a Spurs-mad family. My mum lived in Tottenham when she moved over from Ireland. I had a season ticket for six years when I was younger and sat in the Paxton Road behind the goal. My favourite player has to be David Ginola.

Spurs Ladies are in the Premier League Southern Division: for those who don’t know, where exactly is this in the women’s football pyramid?

So the Premier League Southern Division is the highest tier in the winter game. It’s been a progression for Spurs Ladies, when I first joined in 2000 we were in the Greater London League. We got promotion in 2012 and since then we’ve just been building and getting stronger and now we are a well established club in our league.

Looking at the league standings, Spurs are firmly in mid-table. How do you view the campaign? The record shows nine wins, eight losses and just one draw — is consistency an issue?

This season we have been playing some of the best football I’ve known since being here but we’ve dropped points against the teams above us just by odd goals which is something we want to work on. It’s not due to being inferior, it’s just small details we’ve been punished for against the bigger teams and we are looking to work on that.

In the cup competitions, it is a different story. We’re in not one, but three, cup finals — the Ryman Cup, the Capital Women’s Cup and the FA Premier League Cup. Tell us about these competitions: is one “bigger” than the others? And how big an achievement would it be to win them? Feel free to give the games a plug….

It’s an amazing achievement. The main competition that stuck out at the start of the season was the one we have just got through in, the FA Premier League Cup. We find out who we are playing this weekend but the final will be on May 8 at Kidderminster. (Update: we play Cardiff)

The Ryman Cup we were in last year against Charlton and have them again this year. Unfortunately we lost last year in extra time and that’s something we want to put right this season. It’s on April 14 at Cheshunt.

The Capital Women’s Cup — again we have Charlton! That is on the April 27 at Wingate & Finchley.

It would be amazing to come away with some silverware from those games and it would be great to have as much support as possible.

Let’s talk about life as a women’s football player. Spurs Ladies are not professional: how do you balance your work and sporting commitments?

We aren’t professional. We all have full-time jobs and there’s a few students. We fit the training in three nights a week around it. We all mainly do it for the love of the game and we have a great group, there’s a family feel to the club. It doesn’t feel like making an effort as we enjoy it so much and it’s worth it when we get three points. It’s a big commitment but definitely worth it.

How often do you train, and are you finding the training is becoming more demanding as more focus is placed on the women’s game?

We have a certain style of play with lots of pace going forwards. Our forward line would scare anyone on their day. The training is tough but it pays off. This season is the first we’ve done three nights a week, it’s more demanding but it’s paying off.

How much interaction do you have with the men’s team? Is there ever the opportunity to train together, or spend time together?

We see them on appearances with things like the hospital visits at Christmas time. They all seem really nice. Sometimes we watch them train and they are always very welcoming.

How do Spurs Ladies go about finding players?

We have trials at the start of every year. There’s a circuit of players in our League and Karen has a great knowledge and network of contacts when it comes to finding new players.

Talk me through the matchday experience. Where are the games played? How many people attend? Do you feel interest is rising? And do you ever get the chance to play at White Hart Lane?

We play our games at Cheshunt FC and they are 2pm kick-offs on a Sunday. The attendance can vary but this year we’ve seen a big rise and are grateful for the support of the main Club in helping with that. The big games we can get over 200, which is great. We’ve also noticed a huge rise in our social media followings from fans who follow the Men’s team. We haven’t played at White Hart Lane yet but do train at the Training Centre now, which is a great experience.

Thanks to Jenna for taking the time to answer my questions. Please do follow Spurs Ladies and Jenna on Twitter for all the latest in this crucial month. And while you are at it, give me a follow as well.

The state of the stadium naming rights market, and what it could mean for Spurs: An expert view

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If there is one aspect of the new Spurs stadium scheme that generates more debate than any other, it is the question of naming rights.

This is understandable — the naming rights partner will become indelibly linked to the club, in the same way that, say, Emirates is now a piece of Arsenal’s fabric. It will become part of the daily conversation that we have as fans, and our matchday experience, and therefore it will matter profoundly to us.

As such, many Spurs fans dread that the naming rights partner may be somehow embarrassing (Pizza Hut Park), ethically questionable (say a badly behaved bank), or simply something that we don’t like, for whatever reason.

Ultimately though, there is no way that we are all going to be happy with the eventual partner, short of Harry Kane buying up the rights himself in lieu of taking a salary.

When I wrote extensively about the financing of the stadium earlier this year, the majority of comments I received were about my assertions on naming rights. I said that putting a value on a potential naming rights deal was like guessing the length of a piece of string, based on the wide range of income from previous deals that have been struck in the US and UK.

It is fair to say that a lot of people questioned this. Many claimed expertise in the sponsorship area — more, frankly, than I believed.

A frequent comment went: The NFL deal, and the potential of the stadium to be both an NFL and Premier League stadium, were a game changer in terms of securing a lucrative naming rights deal.

With naming rights a key part of the club’s funding strategy for the stadium scheme, Spurs will have conducted (or rather commissioned) a detailed analysis of the naming rights market, and come up with a figure that they can use in the projections for funding the project.

But how feasible is it really to put an accurate figure on what Spurs may get? How “real” will the impact of the NFL deal be when the club eventually puts the rights to market? And what is the state of the sponsorship market at the moment, particularly in the US where new stadiums are regularly built?

I wanted to get some expert opinion. So I got in touch with Michael Colangelo, the Assistant Director of the University of Southern California’s Sports Business Institute, and the Managing Editor of The Fields of Green, a website covering sports business. He very kindly agreed to answer my questions.

 

It appears that every year, there is a spectacular new stadium built for a franchise across the US major leagues. How crucial is a naming rights partner in terms of funding these projects?

Naming rights are extremely crucial, especially because they are used as a funding mechanism to build a stadium. Every time a new arena/stadium is built, one of the ways teams gain extra funding (through debt) is listing its projected income on naming rights. It’s all factored in. It would be very difficult to build a new stadium without projecting naming rights income into the capital structure.

How lucrative are these arrangements? For new projects, such as the Minnesota Vikings stadium, what sort of amount are NFL franchises bringing in from their naming rights deals?

Naming rights are the most lucrative form of sponsorship for most stadium construction projects. Naming rights deals are typically 20-25 years in length with a total of $100+ million at least for newer stadiums. The Minnesota Vikings deal with US Bank has been reported at 20 years at $220 million cost. Levi’s Stadium (49ers) is reported at $11 million/year. MetLife Stadium in New York is reported at $16 million/year.

Obviously the deals change on the size of the market, exposure, if the stadium will hold marquee events (Super Bowl, National Championships etc.)

How “easy” is it to strike these deals? By which I mean, is there a broad array of different businesses — not just finance industry, say — interested? And is there a “meeting of minds” between sponsors and franchises over how long these arrangements should last?

No deal with this much money involved is “easy.” There are multiple things to take into account when working with a naming rights partners. Many times teams want a naming rights partner who is also invested locally in their community. Levi’s has a San Francisco HQ. Target is HQ-ed in Minnesota and has naming rights for Target Field (Minnesota Twins). Gillette has the naming rights for the New England Patriots and is a local company.

As you can see there are a broad array of industries. Airlines, car companies, food/quick service restaurants, banks, financial institutions, and other companies see different benefits of being a naming rights sponsor. If there is room in the marketing budget then a major company could be a naming rights partner.

As for length of arrangements, they are generally long (20 years is typical). In some cases companies change names, are purchased, or no longer operate. Often times teams will then have to find another naming rights sponsor.

The new Spurs stadium will host two NFL matches per year initially. How appealing is this exposure to the US market to a potential sponsor, on top of exposure through association with a Premier League club? Or is two NFL games simply not enough?

Any company that is purchasing naming rights to the new Spurs stadium would be buying them for the entire benefit. Two games isn’t enough for a return on investment. It would make the most sense for a global company that wants exposure in the European market to partner with the stadium owners for naming rights. The more events/exposure the better for the naming rights partners. AT&T benefits from naming rights on Cowboys Stadium from every event held there, not just the 8 home NFL football games.

The stadium is widely seen as a home for a future NFL franchise, should the league opt to push the button on an expansion to London. How valuable a sponsorship opportunity would this be? And if so, how would this potential upside affect the club’s negotiations?

The NFL is doing the right thing by taking its time to expand outside of the U.S.. It has to make sure it has a viable market before putting a team in any major city, and the NFL is trying to build the game more every year by adding extra games in London. If it is financially viable (as well as competitively viable with travel etc.) the league will move to put a term permanently in London, but there is no rush to “push the button” so to speak.

NFL games at the venue still adds to exposure, so it should still be taken into account. Especially if its a Euro-based company trying to gain exposure in the US market. London games are often played early enough where it is the only game being shown on TV (or it is the nationally televised game). That potential upside could push the price of the naming rights higher than a normal stadium deal.

With audiences for the Premier League growing in the US, how appealing is the prospect of sponsoring a team such as Spurs? We’ve had Chevrolet, for example, spending big on Man Utd shirt sponsorship — is that considered a success, and sign of things to come?

This speaks more to the globalization of industry more than it does to just the world of sports. Every company is trying to gain exposure to international markets and sports is one of the easiest ways to do so. The Chevrolet deal is something people in the United States noticed. It is also helpful that Man Utd is one of the most well known teams in the world. Fans in the U.S. knew about Man Utd before the Chevy deal was signed.

Obviously the expansion of soccer fans in the U.S. is something Tottenham should take into account with any deal. The team has been shown more on NBC this year because they have been at the top of the table. As with anything in sports, teams get more exposure the more they win. If Tottenham is going to continually be at the top of the table it is better for their sponsors that want exposure in the U.S. market. It would not be surprising for more global companies to get involved in sponsorship/partnership deals outside of their market if they see a return on investment.

Spurs have talked about bringing in around £30 million per year in additional commercial income from the stadium, much of which will be from a naming rights deal. How realistic does this seem to you?

It’s important to note that not all of the deals will come directly from naming rights. A new stadium generates income in multiple ways outside of the just naming rights, although that will definitely be a part of it. New LED screens allow for more effective partnership deals and brand exposure. Boards around the stadium can have signage for the official car, bank, beer, soda, etc. of the team. Those partnership deals will also create revenue.

New stadiums also have more options for food, beverage, concessions, and apparel. There could be an increase in average ticket prices. The £30 million is achievable but the team will have to work hard with its partners to find the right deals.

About mechanics of these deals: The club has said that naming rights deals are normally struck mid-way through construction. Is this accurate, or are naming rights deals in US often struck before ground is broken?

It often depends on the market, but it is more likely that the deal is in place during construction than before the venue is built. There are multiple reasons for this — the design of the stadium may change, it is easier to price out a deal while the stadium is being built as naming right prices fluctuate (aka closer to the actual deal signage/activation happening), it allows for negotiation of the deal — and it isn’t rare for a deal be put into place a year before the stadium actually open.

Finally, just a bit of fun: can you give some names of potential sponsors who may have an interest? The two biggest naming rights deals in the EPL currently are Etihad and Emirates, but it’s surely time for something different. Can you think of any US corporations that may look it at it and think it of interest?

I try and stay out of the prognosticating business with deals like this. It’s tough to know where the global economy is going to be once the stadium is done being built. If banking is struggling those companies are less likely to sign deals. If the energy sector is down due to cheap oil prices it could take out energy companies.

In any case there will surely be interest. The Spurs new stadium will be hosting multiple events that provide sponsors with great exposure.

 

Thanks to Michael for taking time to answer my questions. For those interested in the business of sport, do check out The Fields of Green. For more Spurs chat, please give me a follow on Twitter, email or share your thoughts in the comments section.

 

New Spurs stadium the “front-runner for an NFL franchise”: Q&A with Sky Sports presenter Neil Reynolds

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Of all the aspects about the new Spurs stadium scheme that interest me most, it is the NFL connection. I’ve written extensively about it: just why on earth are Spurs, a club with no knowledge or experience of American football, going to considerable effort and expense to install NFL facilities in the new stadium?

Since publishing my last piece, there has been a steady stream of news underlining the effort the NFL is making towards international expansion. Just this week, it was reported that the NFL is seeking to take games to Germany and China in the coming years. At the annual meeting of NFL owners and powers-that-be, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked “what’s next” for the league, and said it would be a London franchise, or one in Mexico City. This is important: ultimately, the NFL is run for its owners, and Jerry Jones will be one of the people who decide when a London team happens.

On the Spurs stadium itself as an NFL venue, there hasn’t been much news of late. The stadium is still a large hole in the ground, and until it is completed we are unlikely to hear much. But I’m curious to find out more, and so decided to seek out some expert opinion.

When you are British, and you have questions about the NFL, there is only one man to ask: Neil Reynolds, Sky Sports NFL presenter and host of the Inside The Huddle podcast.

I got in touch with Neil and sent him some questions about Spurs and the NFL. And being a quality bloke, he came straight back to me with answers.

First some links: To see the stadium scheme, click here. To subscribe to the Inside the Huddle podcast, click here. My latest stadium news piece is here, and you can hear me talk about Spurs and the NFL in glorious detail on the Football and Football podcast here.

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What are you views on the new stadium Spurs are building, and how does it compare with other new NFL facilities? Does it “look” like an NFL stadium to you?

The new stadium absolutely looks like a first-class NFL facility and I think its size and design will be very attractive to the NFL, as well as the fact that Spurs are committing to giving the NFL their very own field. That shows a real commitment and desire for Tottenham Hotspur to be involved with the NFL in the long term and that is exciting.

Spurs and the NFL signed a 10-year, two-game per year arrangement. Do you think this is likely to be the extent of the hosting arrangement, or do you feel that, ultimately, the Spurs stadium is viewed as the home of an NFL franchise in London?

This is only my opinion as a reporter covering the NFL, but I think this is a partnership that is going to grow considerably over the years. As the NFL adds more games to its London schedule in the coming seasons, having multiple stadia will be useful so expect to see contests spread across Tottenham, Wembley and Twickenham.

But if we are fortunate enough to get to the point where we have an NFL franchise in London, I would expect one stadium to be used extensively in order to create a level of comfort for the players and to create some form of homefield advantage.

With Spurs offering an NFL-specific field and a capacity in the region of 60,000, I would say that venue would be the front-runner for an NFL franchise. It is certainly easier to sell out a 60,000-seat stadium eight times per year as opposed to a venue in excess of 82,000 seats.

Do you think, at this point, an NFL franchise in London is a matter of “when” not “if”? And what sort of timeline do you feel we are working on — 2022 is often is batted around. Is that realistic?

I think it is a matter of ‘when’ and the NFL will build towards that in the coming years with four, five and even six games per year being played in London. And I would say that 2022 is a very realistic time frame given the growing fan and government support, as well as outstanding stadia availability.

Momentum for the NFL in the UK continues to grow and I wrote a few years ago that I felt we would have a London franchise before a star player like Aaron Rodgers retired. Rodgers looks good for playing another six or seven years so he could end up making me look very clever on that front!

How would adding a team in London work? It is normally assumed that a team such as the Jaguars will relocate — is this the most likely scenario? Or will the NFL add an expansion team?

I personally think the talent pool would be spread too thin if the NFL added a couple more teams so had initially been leaning towards a re-location of a team like the Jaguars or the Oakland Raiders, who are having some issues in their home market at the moment.

But money talks in the NFL and if adding two more teams adds billions of dollars to the coffers, the league probably wouldn’t shy away from that. In turn, more dollars flooding into the league eventually finds its way into the pockets of the players so I would imagine them being in favour of expansion, especially as it essentially opens up an additional 106 roster spots through two new teams.

In the club’s planning documents, it was stated that Spurs may seek to secure an NFL franchise. The language was intriguing: do you think a clear relationship between a Premier League soccer club and NFL franchise makes sense from a marketing and commercial standpoint?

It would certainly help in terms of promoting the NFL in the UK and in promoting Tottenham Hotspur in the United States but I had not previously heard of such talk and I don’t think such a partnership is one hundred per cent necessary in order to secure a London NFL franchise.

How is the prospect of a London franchise viewed in the US? Is it just an inevitable next step for a league that needs to broaden its global appeal, or some sort of quixotic misadventure that frustrates many fans?

There are certainly some narrow-minded fans and media who want their game of American football to stay strictly ‘American.’ But there are also a growing number of media who recognise that the game is growing internationally and that the future of the sport – which couldn’t be more popular if it tried in the United States – is overseas.

At the end of the day, money talks and if the current NFL owners feel expanding into the UK is best for their business, they are going to do it, regardless of the blowback in the United States.

Let’s talk fan experience: a lot of Spurs fans who hadn’t previously thought about attending an NFL game will be tempted to try it out. How would you compare the experience of watching an NFL game in London, and a Premier League team?

I would say that there is not much in it in terms of noise and atmosphere, which is impressive from an NFL point of view because the league sends different teams into the London market year after year. If London had its own franchise, the passion for that team would build even more over time.

Personally, as a father of three, I think there is a much nicer family atmosphere at an NFL game and they are great days out. I have worked at every single NFL regular season game in London and have enjoyed seeing how the fans mingle without a hint of trouble or aggression. I have happily worked either in a TV studio or down on the field, knowing my entire family is sitting in the stands in a perfectly safe and enjoyable environment.

I would certainly encourage Premier League fans with families to give the NFL a shot – they won’t be disappointed.

Harry Kane, star striker for Spurs and England, is a huge NFL fan. How useful is that in terms of promoting the NFL to the Spurs fanbase? And on a related note, are there any NFL players you know who are Spurs fans? So far, the only one that we know about is Tim Masthay of the Packers (and he’s a punter, which is hardly too exciting).

Punters are people too, you know! But I take your point. I don’t know of any Spurs fans but I will be asking that question as I make my rounds at NFL training camps this summer. The best I can offer is that the head of public relations for the Green Bay Packers is a big Spurs fan and maybe he can work on Aaron Rodgers!

As for Harry Kane, it’s great that he is a New England Patriots fan and can help promote the NFL to Spurs fans. I’m sure he could become a very valuable marketing tool for the NFL in the coming years.

Finally — do you have a Premier League team? Or is it oblong football for you only at this point?

I grew up marvelling at the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush and revelling in all the silverware they picked up year after year. It’s been pretty slim pickings since I was a teenager but that will serve me right for being a glory hunter as a kid… YNWA!

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Neil for taking time to answer my questions. Please follow me on Twitter for more Spurs chat, and follow Neil for NFL news.

‘He’s not good enough for Spurs’ — The view from Sunderland on DeAndre Yedlin

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Via Google Images

A couple of months ago, I checked in on DeAndre Yedlin at Sunderland. Things were going well for the Spurs loanee: he’d had a run of games under Sam Allardyce, and heading back from international duty with the USA he appeared to be edging ahead of Billy Jones to be first-choice right-back.

Sadly, things have gone downhill. Since mid November, Yedlin has started only three times in the league, and in the last of those starts against Watford he played just 19 minutes before Big Sam hauled him off in a tactical rejig. He started against Arsenal in the FA Cup, but otherwise managed just 18 minutes of action over the Christmas period. The prospect of an early termination of his loan was even mooted in the local press as Big Sam reshuffles his squad in a bid to escape the drop.

I was keen to find out more, and the opportunity presented itself when the good people of Salut! Sunderland asked me to do a Q&A before Spurs take on the Mackems on Saturday at White Hart Lane. Colin regretted this greatly once my pro-Newcastle leanings surfaced, but ran it nonetheless.

Sunderland regular Pete Sixsmith kindly agreed in return to answer my questions on Yedlin:

What are your initial impressions of DeAndre Yedlin?

He is a busy player who seems eager to learn and to impose himself. His (relatively) slight physique may hold him back as may his defensive deficiencies.

Yedlin started to get a run when Big Sam first came in, but is now out of the side. What went wrong?

When we went to 3-5-2, there was no place for him. Allardyce clearly prefers Billy Jones, who is a better defender.

What are his chances of featuring regularly for the rest of the season? Surely he can do more from right back than Billy Jones?

Jones is a plodder but he knows the Premier League – and Allardyce values that. Yedlin offers cover if either Jones or Van Aanholt are injured. If/when he gets a chance, it is up to him to take it

Do you think him having to leave for international duty has damaged his chances of establishing himself?

Not really. All clubs have players whizzing to the four corners of the earth (I know, it’s a sphere and spheres don’t have corners) so I don’t think that has had much impact on him.

Gut feeling — does Yedlin have what it takes to be a Premier League player, or should Spurs be looking to shift him back to Major League Soccer?

He isn’t good enough for Spurs – if Danny Rose can’t always get a game you must be strong at the back – but he could hack it at another Premier League club although I do think he is a bit lightweight. He learns well and his struggles at Sunderland could well be character building. I think he would do well in the Netherlands or in Germany.

So, in conclusion… it’s not too promising.

Yedlin’s situation would appear straightforward: If he can’t make it at a struggling Sunderland this season, he surely won’t make it at Spurs.

While Big Sam understandably is putting a focus on experience, Billy Jones is deeply average, or a “plodder” as Sixsmith puts it. If Yedlin can’t win a head-to-head against Jones, it is hard to see how he is going to challenge Kyle Walker or Kieran Trippier for a spot at Spurs. At £2.5 million, Yedlin was a cheap gamble — he is still a USA regular,  and his value shouldn’t be too damaged if Spurs decide he isn’t going to make the cut.

I’d add: Yedlin is only 22, and there are 17 games left this season, so he has time to turn it around — I really hope he does. But this feels a sink-or-swim scenario for him at Sunderland, and right now he’s taking on water.

Thanks to Pete for answering my questions, and to Colin Randall for inviting me to do the Q&A. And do check out Salut! Sunderland — it’s a great fan site, with proper writing.