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The State of Modern Football, As Seen in Tottenham’s Annual Financial Report

I’ve been reading through Tottenham’s annual financial results announcement, which was released to the stock exchange today and immediately overshadowed by the news of their (fictional-sounding, but who knows) plan to build a new stadium. There’s nothing too surprising in the report—turnover was up eleven percent, they’re paying out the same shareholder dividend as last year—but there’s always something aesthetically pleasing about reading a document like this, even though this one is astonishingly ungrammatical for a piece of writing with an umbilical cord leading back to hundreds of millions of pounds.

I think it’s that when clubs present themselves to their investors, they naturally emphasize a different part of their identity and a different aspect of the club/supporter relationship. It’s a slight reconfiguration of the way you usually think about football, combined with a somewhat more honest account of what’s really at stake for club executives, combined with a matte glaze of corporate English that absorbs your fiercest objections. Reading a paper like this, in other words, is not a bad way to explore the values of contemporary football, and to that end, I’ve culled some representative quotations.

Don’t read them argumentatively. Don’t even read them closely. Just let your eyes drift over them, let them wash over you, and see if they don’t, in a way that goes far beyond Spurs, strike you as a good summary of the present moment in top-tier global sport.

“World class mixed-use development scheme incorporating new 60,000 seater stadium, a club museum, restaurants, homes, shops and community benefits”

“We have continued to generate operating profits assisted by our extended runs in Cup games and the ongoing strength of the FAPL TV rights has given us the stability to move the business into its next phase of development”

“The new Training Centre, on 68 acres, will be important in enhancing the Club’s position in domestic and European competition, attracting and developing exciting young talent, including home grown talent, which in turn benefits the national team.”

“Looking further forward to funding for the new development, the funding package will necessarily include a combination of sponsorship, property deals, bank finance and innovative funding proposals.”

“The project team now includes a multi-disciplinary group of architects, transport consultants, heritage specialists, planning consultants and other advisers.”

“The Club’s corporate hospitality facilities were sold out for virtually every game during the season with demand coming from a wide range of international, national and local businesses for the executive boxes and range of executive lounge facilities.”

“[O]ur increasingly popular website…led to growing turnover for our online shop. The value of our online retail sales operation grew by 88 per cent on the prior year and now represents 45 per cent of retail turnover.”

“The Club’s online TV service, Spurs TV Online, was successfully re-launched during the year and is now a leading brand in the market place.”

“Our partnership with SuperSport United in South Africa, a Premier Soccer League (‘PSL’) team owned by SuperSport, one of the largest broadcasters in Africa, broadcasting to 57 countries, which was announced last year…has resulted in extensive coverage of both the Club and the joint academy throughout the continent.”

“Since the year end we have similarly agreed to a partnership with the American club, San Jose Earthquakes and are now considering opportunities to do likewise in other key territories.”

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The State of Modern Football, As Seen in Tottenham’s Annual Financial Report

by Brian Phillips · October 30, 2008

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