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Blame the board, not the fans

By Joff Wild
Date: 3/1/2004

Spurs in the bottom three, players wanting to leave the club and David Pleat failing completely in his role as caretaker manager..

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Blame the board, not the fans
By Joff Wild for THEspursweb.com

Spurs in the bottom three, players wanting to leave the club and David Pleat failing completely in his role as caretaker manager: it's a Tottenham crisis to beat all others we have had over recent years. So today in the Daily Mirror, Sir Alan Sugar lets rip and puts the blame on those who he holds responsible. And it is no surprise to learn that it is the fans' fault.

In the words of another Tottenham supporter, you really could not make it up. According to our former chairman, Spurs fans should be like those who follow Charlton and Southampton - we should know our place and be grateful for small mercies. Of course, it would help if the players, the management and the board of Spurs showed anything like the abilities of their counterparts at these two clubs but let's not allow that to get in the way of a fine piece of bile.

The comparisons with Charlton and Southampton are interesting though. I wonder how much the fans of those two clubs pays to watch their team - significantly less than the average Spurs fan I would guess. Have Charlton and Soton fans been asked to pay more for their season tickets over the last three years whilst at the same time having the number of games the package covers reduced? Do their clubs encourage speculation about transfer links with the likes of Rivaldo, Morientes and Schevcenko at season ticket renewal time? Do they sit through a jumbotron montage before home games that is deliberately designed to evoke the great days at their club? When they have won just 10 games in a calendar year does their chairman claim the team is competitive in the league? Has a director of either club recently explained that the gap is closing on Arsenal because the team did not lose so heavily to them this year? No, I thought not. It's Spurs fans that have had to suffer all of that, and much more on top. But, according to Sugar, we should stay silent. Hmmm.

Sugar also rightly blames Tottenham's players for not showing passion and commitment when playing for the club. But he does not ask why. Is it possibly because they are working in an environment which tolerates second best? A club without real leaders creates a vacuum in which mediocrity and worse thrives. When chairmen, directors and managers are happy with mid-table and not losing too badly to Arsenal or Man Utd, what kind of message does that send out to those playing in the team? Certainly not that they are expected to sweat blood for the shirt. The plain fact is that lack of vision, leadership and judgement at the very top makes it easier for the first team to lose. Don't blame the fans for that, blame the board.

However much Sugar, Levy and the rest of them do not like it, the responsibility for the plight of Tottenham Hotspur lies with those that run the club. They are the leaders, they create the club's culture, they define the parameters within which the club operates, they set out the goals the club is trying to achieve. The board at Spurs, unlike their counterparts at Southampton and Charlton, charge supporters Champions League prices; through the club's marketing and PR they perpetuate the idea that we are a big club because only by doing this can they justify fleecing supporters for so much. However, if you constantly feed customers a highly priced but inferior product you should not be surprised when these customers begin to complain.

At Spurs, the board of directors has always been happiest blaming other people and shooting the messenger for the lamentable performance of the club. It is this lack of self awareness, humility and business acumen that has kept us down for so long. Charlton, Southampton and a number of other clubs generate far less revenue than Spurs yet consistently out perform us. That is not the fault of the fans, that is the fault of the people who run the club and fail time and time again to make the right decisions. They deserve to be held to account and will be, whatever Sugar and Levy may say.
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