Spurs Legacy Fans: Our Time Has Come

Yesterday was a good day. After 48 hours of concerted fan protest around the country, the only competition left for the rats was who could be first to leave the sinking ship. It was a joy to behold.

Less a campaign – there wasn’t time to organise – more an outcry, supporters rose above the tribalism that the football powers bank on to undermine fan solidarity to discover and express a common interest. You and I have lived through and been part of an historic moment in English football. Nothing like this has ever happened before, where fans united in dissent to alter the direction of the game itself. That’s not an exaggeration while I am still high on exaltation. History is being written as I type. English fans just do not behave like this.

There will be other battles. For now, we’re left to think about the implications of what this means at Tottenham. Spurs’ impudence to attach themselves to Europe’s so-called big 12 was widely derided, but please pay attention at the back, we are 10th and rising in the league table that mattered, the Deloitte’s European club rich list. Levy wasn’t hanging on anyone’s coattails, he was there from the early days. It was City and Chelsea who came on board late (which made it easier for them to jump off) because they have other sources of income. Levy made sure he had a seat at the top table because he didn’t want to get left behind. Play the financials rather than invest in a winning side and earn status on the pitch. It’s what he does.

It was a catastrophic misjudgement. He’s left humiliated, looking like a fool, and the worst kind at that, an arrogant fool, out of touch with football and the supporters. What appears to be an astonishing, baffling miscalculation can be understood by looking at his relationship with fans. I’ve never met him, but I know many people who have, and they say he genuinely cares about the club as owner and as a fan. Yet he like many people running other clubs fails to understand what supporters want and how they wish to be treated.

I know this sounds oddly simplistic but I’ve spoken over the years to supporters’ organisations, club liaison officers and consultants involved in the game , and they all say the same thing. People who run football just don’t get it. Worse still, they think they do. They do surveys. They take feedback. They meet with the Trust. They meet with other chairs. But they don’t understand us. They avoid interaction. They may engage in dialogue, but they don’t respond. Their definition of participation does not include giving fans any power.

Levy’s callous, contemptuous approach towards me and you has been exposed. We are ‘legacy fans’, left behind in favour of the ‘fans of the future’, the wet dream of thrusting marketing professionals who see us as commodities and income sources. AI creates robots with more human emotion than these people see in us, in you and me.

Levy is telling me that a lifetime of support and profound emotional commitment is worthless. Being a Spurs fan is part of who I am. It’s not something I do on a Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours. It never goes away and I don’t want it to. Family, friendships, identity all chucked out of the window so the viewing figures can go up. How many times have I written and talked about my pride in Spurs’ history and heritage? The club cuts that off in a heartbeat. It means everything to me, nothing to them.

I knew this already. We all do. Some have had enough and hung up their scarf and season ticket for the last time. I don’t blame them. But fans come to an accommodation with this cognitive dissonance. It’s a game we all play to a greater or lesser extent. For me, I tell myself that why should I give up a lifetime of support, something that has driven and sustained me for nigh on 60 years, just because of the people who run the club now.

The way I support my team is essentially no different to how it was when I began in the mid-60s, or how generations of fans have walked up and down the High Road for over 130 years. Go to the game and get behind the team. Enjoy the good times, commiserate with mates during the bad times, and see you next week. The game is the same, faster and more athletic, but in essence no different. It’s the hype and blather that has changed, so turn it off and enjoy the match.

Yes, I am a legacy fan, yes I’m proud of it and I’m not going away. An important part of that is understanding where I come from. I hope that if some good emerges from this sorry episode, it’s that fans recognise how much their club means to them. Being a supporter is not about instant gratification, it’s about being part of something much greater. We are connected. This is part of our DNA as English football fans, the connection between club and community, the ties with where our club originated, the ties that bind to other fans.

We are not a separate elite. We are part of the pyramid. I am the bloke in Madrid for the CL final, the bloke in the best stadium in Europe and the bloke having a quiet pint in the bar at Rusthall FC, going away to see Fisher FC. I support a team in the Premier League but I don’t feel any different from a loyal fan of any club in any league, and I express my support in the same way as they do. I feel closer to, say, Bury or AFC Wimbledon fans trying to save their clubs than I do to someone who goes to Spurs as a social event, has a nice meal and doesn’t care about the result. To me, there’s no them and us. That is what has made me so angry about the ESL, that it assumed we would all fall into line with exclusion and elitism.

Levy is fond of describing his role as that of a custodian, respectful of the club’s heritage. I believe he genuinely thinks that. The problem is that he does not grasp what that means or, more importantly, what he can do to nurture that heritage. He builds a stadium on the site of the old White Hart Lane, which is wonderful, and I know he is enormously proud of the ground, but only after fans protested in the surrounding streets about a move to Stratford. He wants to fill the seats but he doesn’t care who comes, as long as somebody does. He says the fans are great, then kicks us in the teeth. He thinks this is what we want. Yesterday, it was reported that he was surprised and concerned at the reaction to the proposed ESL. Like I said, he just doesn’t get it. Or maybe he does, and he just doesn’t care.

And in the immediate future, it’s we who will face the consequences, taunted and tainted by opposition fans as greedy and arrogant, even though we are not our club. Opposition fans urging their team on to take a special scalp, just as many did when football wanted Leicester to win the league in the closing stages of the 2015-16 season, therefore Spurs must be beaten along the way.

Levy also has a long-term plan for the club. He’s not going to spend recklessly on players, so we need to build over time to achieve that. Fine by me, except he has no sense of how to put this into practice either. He can’t pick a manager to lead us in the right direction or support the men he chooses. As CEO of multimillion-pound companies, he would complete due diligence on senior staff before appointing. Nothing that Mourinho came up with was unexpected. Every part of how he manages is known, as is the impact on his clubs. None of it is relevant to Levy’s heritage plan. Yet he was appointed, a huge mistake caused by Levy’s ego and poor football judgement that will cause long-term harm. He created a wedge between fans and the club. Spurs lag way behind, any momentum from previous years lost, with a daunting rebuilding task this summer. Good riddance.

This is the biggest challenge of Levy’s reign, history suggests he won’t be able to rise to it. In any other business, he’d be out the door as fast as you could say gratuitously inflated compensation package. But this is football. Even now, he’s making plans to dig in.

In the meantime, the very best of luck to Ryan Mason, Chris Powell (a long time Spurs fan) and Ledley. I’ll be smiling when they lead the team out at Wembley.

Finally, heartfelt thanks to the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust, whose opposition to the ESL was passionate and constructive, implacable and coherent. With no notice whatsoever, they got it together, for Spurs and nationally too.

13 thoughts on “Spurs Legacy Fans: Our Time Has Come

  1. Brilliant narrative absolutely spot on been saying for ages lewis enic and co only want what’s best for their investment lewis only recently citing levy on his own no money from the billionaire to upgrade our team and under poch he never got funds to upgrade as he progressed the team lost all that now still I’ve been spurs for 61 years once a spur always COYS

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  2. Nice piece. Levy’s faults were all there in plain sight if you watched the Amazon show. No sense of real leadership or personality. Seemingly starstruck and a reluctant communicator. Almost awkwardly shy. Perhaps unsurprising the team fall short so often. The stadium is magnificent but football-wise we have muddled along for so much of the past 20 years, and failing to build on the talents of so many marvellous players, even in such a competitive environment, is some achievement. Even announcing a new ‘paint partner’ turned into a social media shitstorm. And nobody at the club was sharp enough to see that coming? Get some expertise in, man. And back them for goodness sake.

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    • I completely agree with this. The one thing that really surprised me in the documentary was Levy. Before that my impression of him was that he was a sharp operator who knew what he wanted. In fact, as you say, he came across as star struck and a bit of a fool. As last night’s non-apology shows he is also unbelievably arrogant.

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  3. Thanks Alan. Spot on as always.
    I still want to weep when I think of how Levy sold Poch down the river. Our best manager since Billy Nic, he should have had the chance to do what Sir Alex did at Man U.
    The die was cast when Burkinshaw was eased out in favor of the suits and not much has changed since then.
    Not optimistic for Sunday but miracles happen and the year ends in a one. COYS.

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  4. I know I shouldn’t say it but the time has come for loyal spurs fans to finally let Levy and Lewis know their time is up. When we are allowed back in the stadium, we must (and as I say I hate to write this but I feel I must) tell them it’s time to sell up and get someone who understands football. Lewis has never put a penny into the club since he bought it 20 years ago. He even got Levy to borrow £170 million last year under the emergency COVID loan scheme for Gods sake. While Enic are in control we will never challenge for anything. Remember at the end of the 2017/18 season when Poch said after the final game of the season that Spurs have to decide who they want to be. Do they want to be a big club? If so they have to be brave and compete for the best players. What happened? That summer we became the first club never to sign anyone! Enough said. People will say “you got to the champions league final in 2019” – that only disguised the truth. The team needed rebuilding in the summer of ‘18 and even more so in ‘19. We all knew then where we needed to strengthen. Central defence, quality creative midfielder and a good striker. It wasn’t rocket science. We could have signed Bruno Fernandez long before he went to Utd, but levy refused to spend and extra £10m so settled on the cheaper and inferior Lo Celso. We could’ve signed Ruben Dias but again Levy deemed him too expensive then Man City stepped in and snapped him up. And so it goes on. Remember when jack Grealish was about to join a few years ago for a reported £20m? Levy, allegedly smelling a deal, thought he could renegotiate the price down to £10m as Villa were in financial trouble. Then suddenly new owners came in and told him to stick his offer. Another quality player lost by the penny pinching chairman. Levy doesn’t understand that spending a little more on quality will result in that investment repaying itself in better cup runs, higher league positions and champions league football let alone maybe actually winning something. So I’m afraid times up messers Levy and Lewis – sell up get out.

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  5. OK, let`s take a minute to think about this…

    To the 1000`s of fans posting #Levyout #ENICout and calling for “getting rid” of JL and DL, I get the anger, I`m angry too, but you do realise that they are owners of a business and the only way of getting rid of them is to persuade them to sell the club?
    .
    Let`s just suppose for now they bow to all the pressure and agree. Who do think they are going to sell to?

    I can almost guarantee it will be an American corporate giant with links to other sporting organisations, similar to Man U and Liverpool….so may be a little more money in the pot, but probably even more soul-less than it is now. Is that what we want?

    You can`t say I want you to sell the club but you have to sell it to ABC, or you can`t sell it to XYZ, it simply doesn`t work like that. I really think that a lot of supporters jumping on this bandwagon think by posting hashtag with ENIC OUT means we will turn into Man City overnight with limitless money to spend on players, therefore automatic trophies.

    Yes, of course as fans / supporters we want the best for OUR club, not greedy bean soul-less money men in charge….but be very careful what you wish for.

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    • I agree with Peter on this. Better the devil we know etc.. And you summed up brilliantly all the qualities of Levy and what he’s done for our club, Alan, so we can’t denigrate him too much. Spurs have been desperately unlucky not to have won trophies in the past 12 years, because we’ve had some bloody fine teams and played some great football. When I think of the domestic and European trophies we won with ‘lesser’ Spurs teams from the 60s to the 90s! No, the trophy situation is not Levy’s fault, or would fans rather have bought their way to trophies, like City and Chelsea, and via obscene foreign investment (isn’t that all that’s wrong with football? ..even more than the proposed ESL?). For fans to cry out for Levy and ENIC’s departure, despite the dreadful mistake of the ESL but with Levy’s well meant determination for Spurs not be left behind, and without these fans considering who just might take over from them with their ultra billions (which they won’t magically produce because of the current economy anyway) is deluded, hypocritical and manifestly not fair.
      The fact is, Alan, that despite the jumping on the bandwagon of young fans, who’ll protest at anything without realising why in these pandemic days, or whatever may be the outcome, young fans think differently to older fans. They’ve not known trophy success, so are not really far off supporting something akin to the ESL. They don’t know how we felt supporting our club in the 60s, 70s and 80s, or how truly inclusive the football fraternity really was. It’s a different world, sadly, driven totally by money, and the ESL is just something waiting to happen whether in the idiotic format suggested, or something similar.

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  6. As always Alan, you have called it perfectly and written so eloquently about the latest situations. As we’ve discussed several times, you and i are similar vintage, indeed almost identical in terminus of when we started going to WHL so its perhaps inevitable that our views on life there are equally similar. You also know i’ve been a long time critic of Mourinho so more than glad he’s gone, perhaps the first thing Levy has got right in quite a while. i do know Levy personally, as agin you know, and believe he is a genuine fan of sorts (if that’s not a contradiction in itself) so hope he will now stick with Ryan for a while, even if longer term we need a ore experienced manager. i’ve kept thinking since Monday that Bill Nick ( our greatest ever manager bar none and certainly a million miles ahead of Maureen) was only 39 when he took over so maybe young Ryan could have longer term future in charge as a real Spurs Way man. That we will nowsta in the PL rather than the ESL is a bonus and it will be great to be able to fully get behind a Tottenham Hotspur team atWembley on Sunday (which would have been harder had the other bloke still been around.

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  7. I have looked at this clusterbuck from all angles and still cannot imagine how such a group of supposedly smart business types could have got it so spectacularly misjudged. This orgasm of egos, when the chairmen of such a sexy industry gather to dictate the future of our game, only to throw custard pies into each other’s faces, has succeeded only in creating a new definition of hubris. It is almost as if the whole affair was planned in order to bring clarity to future alliances. A reverse poison pill, as it were. But even if that were the case I cannot believe that such types as Levy & co would allow their reputations to suffer in this way. These prancing stallions are not in the business of being made to look foolish. But even football egos aside, how can JP Morgan take part in such a mess without being 99% confident of success through its own due diligence? Investment banks don’t shove billions across the table without making sure they’ll turn a tidy profit. Nope, there is more to come and this is just the beginning. To turn another cliche, EUFA may have won this early skirmish but a nasty war is looming. Who’se going to be our Churchill?
    Our performances in the past month have been desperate. It has been disappointing to watch players supposedly scrapping for a place in a cup final team produce such poor individual performances against Brighton, Arsenal, Newcastle, Man United and Everton. Sanchez, Reguilon, Aurier and N’Dombele are all guilty and Mourinho cannot be blamed when such highly regarded and paid performers disrespect their teammates. We have a puncher’s chance against Man City but it will take a superhuman team effort, and a sudden improvement in our needless unforced errors, to emerge with the trophy. Remember, Ryan, they don’t like it up ’em!!!

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