We should emulate other European teams' response to the crisis
It’s been a month since I last watched Tottenham Hotspur play (we lost to Norwich on penalties) and yet the club is still finding ways to infuriate me.
With the endless flurry of football paused by the coronavirus pandemic, clubs across Britain have had to take difficult decisions to stay afloat. Some big clubs have kept non-playing staff on full salaries, paid casual workers for the remainder of the season and negotiated pay cuts with their highest earners.
But Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy has decided to join ranks with pantomime villain Newcastle Owner Mike Ashley by announcing that all of the club’s 550 non-playing staff would be taking a 20 percent pay cut. Some would join the government’s job-retention scheme.
The chairman told Spurs fans that with “large segments of the world in lockdown we need to realise that football cannot operate in a bubble.” But it is Mr Levy who finds himself in a bubble, out of touch with the furloughed fans who pay rising ticket costs to keep his business in the green.
This week I had a quick catch-up with some other Spurs supporters in our corner of the stadium. Most have been furloughed, a couple are NHS workers and one has been called-up by the MOD to assist with the government’s response. None of them believe that a club owned by Bahamas-residing multi-billionaire Joe Lewis should be funnelling funds into grossly overpaid players while workers living month-to-month have to face cuts.
Even former manager Harry Redknapp thinks Tottenham is being dodgy with its cash — he reckons “players should be taking a cut” — and he once received $295,000 in a Monaco bank account in the name of his dog Rosie.
I’ve said it before, but I wish Spurs would emulate Barcelona. Players at the Spanish megaclub have accepted a 70% pay cut and are making additional contributions to ensure its non-playing staff receive their full wages. Juventus, Munich and Dortmund are all doing the same.
Football is often accused of existing within a moral vacuum. If any other industry was full of eye-watering wage gaps and cavalcades of human rights-abusing bosses, it would surely be legislated to high heaven. People wonder why football gets away with it. Tottenham feeling comfortable about asking for public money while shelling out millions on footballers makes you realise why.