The ‘Buy It Now’ price was reasonable but pitched too high for a tried and tested model like that one. Demand and supply fixes the value regardless of the opinions of the vendor, and these days everyone wants these new-fangled gadget phones. This one suited me, just calls and texts. He was open to offers, so I waited, that’s what I do. Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock.
As the clock ran down, I pounced. Once I made my move, he had little choice. The Nokia 3109, brand new, unwanted work upgrade, T-mobile only – he had nowhere else to go. Half his asking price, a quarter of the shop value. I had my prize and the vendor had been levyed.
Levy – verb to extract the lowest possible price, ruthlessly, from a transaction, usually by exploiting the weakness and vulnerability of others
Origin – the chairman of Tottenham Hotspur, an English football club, renowned for waiting until the last moment when purchasing players for the team.
The purchase of my phone is pretty much the same as that of Van der Vaart, bar the 6 zeros at the end of the price. In the past I’ve been bitterly critical of Levy, from the ghastly era of Pleat as the caretaker boss where we so nearly were relegated, through to Santini and Jol’s sacking. However, over the past few years my grudging acknowledgement of his undoubted business acumen has become genuine respect. The club’s long-term future appears to be far more secure than most Premier League clubs and he’s brought some fine players here in the process. Early last season I wrote a piece characterising Levy as Redknapp’s poodle. When he took the job Harry made much of the fact that he had sole control over transfers – no director of football – and Levy, a businessman out of his depth when it comes to football matters, was more than happy to roll over and have his tummy tickled. I was wrong – Levy’s biggest success has been to curb Redknapp’s spendthrift instincts whilst simultaneously enabling the team to develop.
As someone who is to bartering what Kevin Pietersen is to tweeting, I admire his chutzpah. I am the definition of the opposite of pokerface, as anyone who has ever played cards with me will gleefully confirm, yet Levy is prepared to sit it out. More than that, he coldheartedly susses the vulnerability of a prospective vendor and exploits it to the hilt. Word is that other chairmen and agents don’t like doing business with him. I wonder why.
It’s not always worked, of course, as the hapless Ramos will testify. Frazier Campbell for Berbatov, anyone? We’ve clearly been outbid in terms of both fees and salaries for top players in this window. As the tumult dies away, I am more disappointed than I anticipated by our failure to improve the striking options. A top class striker with different skills to those currently available to Redknapp would have done us the world of good. However, I remain convinced that Levy is correct in refusing to pay vastly inflated fees and especially salaries. It’s tempting as we have cash in the bank but there is no reason to upset the pecking order in the club, where good players have been rewarded with generous contracts, team spirit is cohesive and the quality is there already.
Also, and I’m sorry if regular readers have heard all this before, we have to face facts: players may not wish to come here. Fabiano for instance: I’m sure we made a good offer but settled in one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, excellent wages, good team, sun on his back, fewer language problems, swap that for a team with no recent pedigree in Europe, an area of north London containing some of the most deprived communities in the country or, worse, Chigwell, a long hard slog through the winter and a ground that holds fewer than 39,000 people. To me, WHL is a holy paradise on earth but not to everyone.
When it comes to gambling, I understand all there is to know. What happens is, you put your money down, on the card table or at the bookie’s window, wait, then never see it again. But one thing I do know is, for a successfully gambler it helps if you’re lucky. Levy has mastered the art, or likes to think he has. Van der Vaart is a superb piece of business. He’ll provide vital guile and drive in midfield, plus hopefully the intelligence that was markedly absent on Saturday. But Levy and Redknapp got lucky with this one. I suspect we had made a few enquiries, as we have for hundreds of players, but this was a late call rather than the product of a systematic pursuit. Levy had a tip-off at 4pm and the deal was wrapped up by 6, or in fact just after but who cares about that, we had (snigger) ‘a problem with our server’, apparently.
Granted you make your own luck and Levy’s contacts served him well in this case. More importantly, we had the cash to put on the table. If we had had to go through the rigmarole of loans and staggered payments this thing would not have gone ahead, and that’s good finances. But in the end it was his luck that held, not on this occasion his nerve.