“It’s magnificent to be in Europe, and this club – a club like Tottenham Hotspur – if we’re not in Europe, we’re nothing. Nothing.” William Edward Nicholson OBE. We are in Europe and we have been in Europe for nearly every year since 2006, bar the 2009-10 season. Whether Bill Nicholson meant the “European Cup” or not is not in the question. We find ourselves playing under the lights at White Hart Lane versus teams from across the continent at least three times a year.
Since the takeover of ENIC in 2001, we have featured in the UEFA Cup – now Europa League – six times and the Champions League once. Before ENIC, under the guidance of Alan Sugar from 1991-2001, we only featured in a European competition three times. Progress. Over the past few years now, Tottenham fans have been unhappy with the progress of the club; voicing their concerns about the direction in which the club wish to travel and if ENIC are in it for the long term. The relationship between the fans and the club hasn’t always been as smooth as clubs like Everton and there are valid reasons for their anger. Lack of communication from the board to the fans, the five year plan, StubHub, the new stadium, the THST, the “Y” word and atmosphere are just some of the things that fans are raising their concerns over. The club failed to release a statement over the departure of Portuguese manager, Andre Villas-Boas and the appointment of Tim Sherwood on an apparent 18-month basis. The plan was to build a young, attacking and powerful team under the guidance of Villas-Boas but this was bought to a harsh end after just over a year.
The proposed new stadium has been at a planning stage for several years and only a bit of land is visible on the current site. And a Sainsbury’s. StubHub is a ticket selling/buying website where fans can charge as much as they wish for a ticket to a game. There have been examples of tickets going for £400-£600 for average Category C games. The “Y” word and it’s use is something the club do shy away from and they try to avoid it at all, disregarding the intent behind it, leaving the fans with little to fall back on. The atmosphere at White Hart Lane has become infamously bad and it’s only getting worse. Very little singing, chanting and support; instead we see booing, hissing and constant abuse and threats hurled at the players – something the fans can be blamed for too. However, movements such as 1882 are trying to bring some atmosphere to the ground yet receiving little backing from the club – who also refuse to bring back “The Drum” and prohibit fans from bringing certain flags to games.
The partnership with Real Madrid can only be regarding as farcical at it’s best. In the last two years, we have sold them arguably our two best players of the decade and received very little in return. In fact, a year on from the sale of Luka Modric, we were still owed £12million. We’ve never received a young or outcaste player on loan or had first refusal on any of their departing players. Whether it’s us bowing to them or being bullied, it’s incomprehensible.
However, I still think that the pros outweigh the cons. If ENIC were to leave and a new owner/firm were brought in to run the club, who knows how we’d end up? Seeing a club like Leeds or Portsmouth in their current state of affairs sends a cold shiver down my spine. Do we really want to risk ending up like that? In debt, in a lower league and with no world class players? No, we don’t. ENIC have kept the books balanced and the success to an acceptable standard. At Spurs we expect glory and trophies, there is no denying that. But, would you take all that at the expense of stability and money? I think not.
Daniel Levy, for all his negatives, has kept the club in the Premier League and improved us as a whole. The likes of Keller, Bunjevcevic, Anderton and Rebrov are now Lloris, Vertonghen, Paulinho and Adebayor. Now I know which squad I’d rather have. We don’t have the billions like Manchester City and Chelsea. We don’t have the history and recognition like Liverpool and Manchester United. We don’t have the consistency and patience of Arsenal yet year in, year out we find ourselves amongst these teams; the elite of English football. It’s fair to say, we have punched above our weight. However, now we have a huge squad – perhaps the third strongest in the League – we are right amongst those teams. Fourth place is not beyond us this season. Manchester United are turbulent, Liverpool need Suarez to repeat his form from the first five months and Everton don’t have the squad to compete. If we remain consistent and keep winning games, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be back amongst the big names in Europe next season; the Real Madrids, the Barcelonas and the Bayern Munichs of the world. By getting rid of ENIC, we don’t know what will lay in store for the future. We aren’t going to be destroyed if we keep them on. We will ensure some sort of stability and consistency.
The plans for the stadium are in place and should start soon, we have just upgraded to a state of the art training facility at Hotspur Way and we have some of the most talented players in the country. ENIC are by no means perfect and have their faults but they do their utmost best for this club. I think it’s up to us, as fans of the glorious Tottenham Hotspur, to support them and back them. Vent your anger when it’s needed, show your disappointment when we lose and sing your heart out no matter what, because you don’t know what lies ahead. As the age old saying goes, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone…”
Finally, a tribute to Tom van Haaren – a Spurs fan who passed away after losing his battle to cancer last week. At the Europa League game versus Dnipro, Spurs fans in the 1882 movement (Block 35 & 36) will sing his name in the 23rd minute to mark his death at the age of 23. God Bless You, Tom. Tottenham ‘Till He Died. Rest In Peace.