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A new 'Big Four'?

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Dan Roan | 07:35 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Wednesday's showdown between Manchester City and Tottenham, a match that amounts to a Champions League play-off, is of huge significance. Not only to the two clubs concerned, who stand on the threshold of the most exclusive group in the English game, but potentially for the entire competitive balance of the Premier League for years to come.

Some believe that if Roberto Mancini completes the task he was brought in to do, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan will embark on a fresh spending spree the like of which has never been seen before in English football. Encouraged by another high-profile platform with which to promote the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the club's owners will find it even easier to attract the world's best players, possibly consigning Liverpool to years of mid-table frustration in the process.

But are we in danger of over-playing the importance of a City victory on Wednesday? Is this really the biggest game in the club's history? Are we truly on the brink of a new era for the English game? And what would happen if City fail and Spurs qualify instead?

Firstly, this is by no means the richest match in English football. That would be the Championship play-off final, with the winner standing to gain about £40m-£50m from only one season in the Premier League, plus £22m over two seasons in parachute payments if they are relegated. The Premier League is also proposing to double this hand-out to £48m over four seasons, so one can justifiably put the prize on offer at about £90m-£100m.

"The Champions League is significantly less lucrative than the play-off final, which is a much bigger deal," Dan Jones, partner at the Deloitte Sport Business Group, tells me. "A good run in the Champions League can boost revenue by about 30%, though, so it's nice to have in terms of competitive position, but one senses that City is a juggernaut regardless of whether they qualify this year or not."

Qualification to Europe's elite club competition typically earns clubs about £30m a season if they progress to the knock-out stages, with sponsorship deals, corporate revenues, season ticket sales and player acquisitions all boosted by involvement. This extra European revenue has certainly helped perpetuate the so-called 'Big Four' in the recent era of the Premier League.

Roberto ManciniWill Mancini still be Man City boss next season? Photo: Getty Images

The last time the hegemony of the Premier League's elite was threatened was five years ago, when Everton snatched fourth place from Liverpool and qualified for Europe's top club competition ahead of their arch rivals. But it proved nothing more than a blip. Everton flattered to deceive and by mid-August their Champions League adventure was over, knocked out in the third qualifying round by Villarreal. Business as usual. Predictability was restored, and that's the way it stayed.

Similarly, Spurs or City are about to discover that qualifying in fourth place is only half the battle. Uefa has rejigged the qualification format to help teams from smaller nations reach the lucrative group phase and make it harder for those from the more ­established nations to progress. Last year, Arsenal faced a tricky two-legged play-off with Celtic, and dangerous opponents will be lurking in next season's competition at the same stage.

But even if City or Tottenham do progress past such dangers, their hopes of enjoying prolonged success over several seasons in Europe could be undermined. Not by a rejuvenated Liverpool, or other challengers such as Aston Villa and Everton, but by Uefa's Financial Fair Play Initiative, a crackdown on what Uefa president Michel Platini regards as "financial doping".

From 2012 to 2015, spending by wealthy owners like Sheikh Mansour will be restricted to covering total losses of up to £40m, falling to £30m from 2015-2018. City's owner, it has been estimated, would eventually be allowed to invest less than £10m a year in the club.

Qualifiying for the Champions League for the first time in their history will certainly help City to avoid a repeat of their failed attempt to sign Kaka and make luring the world's best players to Eastlands easier. But as Real Madrid have again proved, winning the tournament requires more than an expensively assembled squad of marquee names.

Privately, senior City officials insist that Roberto Mancini is safe in his job as manager regardless of whether they finish fourth. One told me: "Roberto's task was progress and reach 70 points. That has almost been achieved. We're heading for our highest Premier League finish ever and nothing changes if we don't qualify. The spending will continue and we'll get there next season instead."

Yet, despite the denials, one cannot help think that Mancini's position will come under serious threat if City do squander this opportunity, especially if Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho becomes available this summer.

In November last year, Khaldoon Al-Mubarak, City's chairman, said this: "We believe in loyalty. We don't leave our men behind, we stick with them." Yet three months later, Mark Hughes was sacked. Turned down by their first choice Guus Hiddink, the owners opted instead for Mancini, who, despite various challenges, has done well to get City to where they are. But there seems little doubt that his task, given the club's astonishing outlay, was to reach the Champions League. Now he must deliver.

When one considers the extravagance of City, a club willing to let £34m Robinho go out on loan, it is easy to see why Spurs boss Harry Redknapp believes all the pressure is on City on Wednesday. Certainly, his future at the club is secure, whatever the result of Tottenham's last two matches.

At a time of financial mismanagement, the London club's achievement is all the more impressive. Over the past 18 months, they have bankrolled £150m of signings but are one of only three Premier League clubs to announce profits of more than £25m in their last accounts. Most interestingly, Spurs have spent only 52% of their turnover on wages compared to a staggering 94% at City.

Finance strategist David Bick, who helped advise both Sheikh Mansour and Thaksin Shinawatra on their respective takeovers of City, told me: "Unlike several clubs, Spurs are run prudently. They keep a clean balance sheet and, for that, the chairman, Daniel Levy, should get credit. They deserve to qualify and, if they do, they'll sensibly resist the pressure to gamble everything and spend excessively. Man City's agenda is completely different. They will now expect a top-four finish every season."

The last time Liverpool failed to finish fourth in the Premier League, they recovered quickly. By hauling themselves off the ropes and dramatically winning the 2005 final in Istanbul, Rafael Benitez's side were granted a reprieve and allowed to play in the competition the following season after failing to gain qualification by the normal route.

Fernando TorresFernando Torres may have played his last game for Liverpool. Photo: PA

Now, however, it is an entirely different Premier League environment. This time there is no fall-back option for Liverpool and their long-term prospects look bleak. Retaining their best players will be difficult without the lure of Champions League football, let alone attracting the fresh talent the unsettled Benitez believes is essential if the Reds are to get themselves back into the reckoning.

The riches of the Champions League have been crucial in helping Liverpool to afford the yearly interest repayments - £36m according to their latest accounts - on the debt owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have saddled the club with. But now they must somehow make do without that assistance, with a sale of their prized assets, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, possibly their only option unless new chairman Martin Broughton and Barclays Capital can seek out a new buyer in the coming months.

It seems we do indeed stand on the brink of a fundamental shift in the landscape of English football's elite. Perhaps the era of 'Big Four' domination is over. The recession and Uefa's determination to tackle over-spending may well combine to ensure a less predictable, more balanced competitive environment.

But for now at least, Liverpool's time in the Champions League has passed and either Man City or Spurs are ready to take their place.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Come on you Spurs!

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    those saying that city will spend regardless of qualification are right. but theyre going to need to qualify in this competition in order to actually attract the stars they want so they can push for the title and sustain being a top 4 team.

    it also has to be said that it takes time for a team to get used to europe. it took united and arsenal a fair few seasons to get used to playing in the champions league. liverpool were hardly great either til rafa came in (i mean champions league, rather than euro cup equivalent pre-1992). only really chelsea have done well everytime theyve qualified. that's right they got to the 1/4 finals in 2000 when they didnt have a sugar daddy. they already had a reasonable team before roman so the insults hurled at them are a little harsh

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    All this talk of a Champions League Play Off seems to assume that on Sunday West Ham and Burnley are going to lie down and die - both will want to finish disappointing seasons with a flourish in front of their own supporters, so anything other than a Tottenham win tonight will leave nothing decided until the weekend, although clearly whichever side goes into those final matches ahead has the advantage.

    And City's biggest ever match - I don't think so, we have played for Championships and just 11 years ago we played-off for the opportunity to climb out of Division 3. Whatever happens over the next two matches we will have had our best season since 1992, we will be playing in the Europe next year - the first time we have qualified on merit since 1978 and we will be building for the future. I hope that we do that by bringing in two or three players rather than another year of wholesale changes.

    As to the overall Premiership situation, I think we have almost reached a point where there is a top eight, each capable of mounting a challenge on the top four places, the big question over the coming years is whether City or Tottenham can build on this year and make a sustained challenge on the top two, whether Arsenal's policy of developing young talent can ever come to fruition and whether Liverpool can rebuild their team and their structure.

  • Comment number 6.

    I fail to understand why villa,everton,spurs chase 4th so badly
    they have failed to make any impact in the europa league for so many years because it stretches their squads to breaking point. they should first try and get a decent second squad together. it would serve no one better to get 4th and den get knocked out at the group stages every year. sure dey can get some better players by the lure of champions league but stil its not like champions league qualification floods u wid money and the best players will go to clubs who pay the highest wages. spurs and city are the real contenders for 4th and wid a decent manager and the funds at eastlands i see them taking it next year if not dis year.

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't agree with Harry's assessment.

    The pressure is all on Suprs for me, they are the ones with most to gain from 4th place.

    As you stated, City will continue on the same path regardless, sure it might mean they have to wait another year to attract the really big names but they will still spend £60m+ on 3 or 4 top class players this summer even if they don't qualify. They will expect to do so next year instead.

    For Spurs this might be their one and only chance to get to that level, if they do then invest the money wisely they could stay there (possibly even at Arsenal's expense if City join them). Howevr if they don't get there, or fail in qualifying or invest badly, then they will slide back to regular 5th/6th place behind United, Arsenal, Chelsea and City.

  • Comment number 8.

    To ignorant Andrew at 2.

    Chelsea have been in Europe for 13 years in a row. When we got "lucky" we were already in the Champions League........ for the 2nd time.

    As for tonight, I'd like Spurs to nick it to see how UEFA deal with their own rule of only 2 sets of fans in one city in one CL week as we'd have 3 London clubs so two would have to be at home in one week.

  • Comment number 9.

    Spurs financial position is not as good as it's been made out to be...

  • Comment number 10.


    Are you saying Man City lack tradition? Oh dear, Bert Trautmann broke his neck for nothing.

    I doubt even the most loyal City fan believes that one Cup Winners Cup win a European heavyweight makes.

  • Comment number 11.

    "Dan Jones, partner at the Deloitte Sport Business Group, tells me.""A good run in the Champions League can boost revenue by about 30%.."

    30% of what? The revenue at Spurs is different to the revenue at Chelsea, and what if Everton qualified, or Aston Villa. I doubt UEFA award the money based on the clubs revenue.

    Interesting figures on the Championship play-off final, £90m-£100m for getting promoted!

    Come on Totten-ham

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    It will be so much the better for football if Spurs qualify. It will prove that money can't buy you everything. I'm sure, in time, City will be there, but they have the funds to do it anytime - this year, next year...ten years time. Spurs need to do it now to ensure players like Bale and Modric stay at the club and they can keep up the challenge for future years. oh, and by the way, Wengerisking (sic), if we win the next two games and you lose on Sunday, there'll be no St. Totteringham's day this year! Get used to that may become more prevalent in future! ;-)

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm not really a fan of either side but I would love to see Spurs take fourth, they have more English players than pretty well any side in the Premiership, have a great English manager in Harry Redknapp,some of the most attractive football around.Man City have tried to buy a title,Harry has built a team that has looked good all season, and most of all wouldn't it be great to see Spurs in the Champions League.One of our truly greatest clubs back where it belongs.P.S.I follow Arsenal,OK, third this year but have achieved nothing to the levels over the year Spurs have, so come on Spurs get that result and book your place in europe.

  • Comment number 15.

    Wow your blog even sounds like Sky! Very lengthy and you cover a lot of points and detail. I think you are early by about a year. The 'Dominance' of City will only happen if they qualify and if they get past the qualifying and if they through the group phase. That's a lot of ifs....I certainly don't believe Mancini has the guile to get them that far either.

  • Comment number 16.

    How to respond to a comment such as Andrew's @2 ?

    It is true that City have never been a European heavyweight, there was some success from 1970- 1978 but it was not sustained, and yes without the Arab investment it is unlikely we would be considering the possibility. But everyone has to start somewhere and others will fade and live on past glories. The Premier League/Champions League has shown how short are people's memories and if over the next ten years City have lived up to their owners ambitions then they will certainly be considered a European heavyweight, with perhaps just those of remembering when a local derby meant a visit to Bury or Stockport keeping our feet on the ground.

  • Comment number 17.

    To 'Andrew' 08:29.. "City like Chelse, got lucky" please remember Chelsea were a top 3 side (Champions league qualifiers) before 'lucky' money came their way for tradition, please please please, its the present and future that really count ?!?!? good being a club with plenty of history and not much of a future.

  • Comment number 18.

    This is the only chance Spurs have to become a 'big club'. Finishing fourth and playing in the Champions League will attract big name signings which will attract other big names, and if they fail to do that this term, I believe Man City will advance so far ahead with their money and the big four will be almost impossible to break in...but if the gooners lose cesc and RVP Spurs may get have a chance!

    Come on you SPURS!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    So if man c do get forth, the players that got them there will be replaced!?! - kinda makes you think if they want to do it!?!


  • Comment number 20.

    Tottenham Hotspur were the first British club to win a European Trophy and to date, only Liverpool and Manchester United have won more Major European Honours than Spurs have.
    In fact, Spurs have outscored Manchester City 17-9 when it comes to all-time major trophies won.
    For the sake of English football, Spurs deserve to get fourth spot this season, as they would have achieved it by running the club in a profitable and businesslike manner and not because a 'Sugar Daddy' dumped untold millions in their coffers.
    Here's a table showing the All-Time English Trophy Winners from 1872 to 2010:

  • Comment number 21.

    Stuff 4th, Spurs should aim for 3rd. That'd be proper revenge for 2005!

  • Comment number 22.

    Hackerjack at 7 has it right. City are at home, and will hope and expect to win, giving them the advantage going into Sunday. But City will be a stronger squad next season, regardless of the result. As for Spurs, this represents a rare chance to clinch fourth place - one which may not come around again for a long time. Pressure? I would say the pressure is on Spurs. Looking forward to the game! C'mon City!!

  • Comment number 23.

    21. Unfortunatley, we wont get 3rd this year. Gooners last game is against Fulham, 3 days before their biggest game ever. However, be nice change going into last game still in striking distance. Regardless of Wednesday's result, Redknapp must be Manager of the year runner up behind Hodgson (hat's off to Fulham!), the transformation from relegation near certainties to 4th or 5th is staggering. It's been a hell of a season, but we are now greedy for another great result and performance. COYS!

  • Comment number 24.

    To 6:Abhey - I think you'll find that it is Spurs who already have a squad better set up for the CL than Man City. Once the injured/loaned players return, Spurs have two full teams (plus some subs) where all players would be worthy of a starting place in most prem clubs.

    It's not just Spurs fans who need their team to win this fight... it's for the good of the premier league and the neutral.

  • Comment number 25.

    4. At 08:45am on 05 May 2010, WengerIsKing wrote:
    Come on City! St Totteringham's Day is TODAY
    not to be a pedant but St Totteringham's day wont happen this season because even if Citeh do win, they will have to win the last game of the season away to West Ham aswell to claim 4th. nice try.
    .....when did Arsenals season finish?....

  • Comment number 26.

    If City don't do it this year then, yes, they will still spend heavily next year. Their problem is (and this applies to anyone outside the top four) that to compete with teams that can offer players Champions' League football, they will have to pay significantly higher wages.
    So if they don't make it, not only will they miss out on CL income next year, it will cost them millions and millions more to get players than if they'd qualified.
    That may not worry them short-term but if the restrictions come in it will be an issue long-term.

    Up the Spurs anyway. I think we're a better 'team' then City at the moment and if we can produce a bit of our great form away from home for once we should be okay tonight.

  • Comment number 27.

    'To 'Andrew' 08:29.. "City like Chelse, got lucky" please remember Chelsea were a top 3 side (Champions league qualifiers) before 'lucky' money came their way'

    Indeed, but Chelsea were on the verge of going into administration before Abramovic came swooping in. You could quite easily be Leeds right now in the third tier of English football.

    So yes, in one sense, you are lucky and should never forget that.

  • Comment number 28.

    Interesting article Dan, but it somewhat suggests that the 'Big Four' are only so-called because of their 'past' Champions League credentials or the money they have/have not spent or are capable of in the future (of which no-one is certain)?

    If allowed I'd like to point fans in the direction of an interesting website I came across called 'The Transfer League' which shows how much English soccer clubs have spent on players in the last decade or so and how that spending reflected on the clubs performances. Take a good look at Arsenal, I'll think Spurs fans' in particular will find it all very interesting.

    Lot's of factors apart from money contribute to having a lasting 'Big 4' legacy, most notably history, club culture, mananagement, location and present competititors. When Man U, Barca, Bayern, Ajax and most relevant today Liverpool go through their lean periods are they no longer considered 'Big' teams in their respective countries and do they still manage to attract the biggest players?

  • Comment number 29.

    Much as it pains me to disagree with a fellow Spurs supporter in public, I think 'go fourth and conquer' (#25) may have misunderstood what St. Totterinham's day actually is. It is the day when it is impossible for Spurs to finish above Arsenal in the leaugue. Man City or 4th place don't come into it.

    But you've got to admit, St Totteringham's Day is rather late this year :-)

  • Comment number 30.

    Hang on a moment...

    ... City have "bought success" and Spurs have "built a side"?

    Remind me, again, who spent £150million in his first 18 months in charge?

    And while we're at it, let's also look at attendance figures for last sunday.

    Eastlands attendance = 47,102
    White Hart Lane attendance = 35,853

    Those figures alone should worry Spurs fans. Your final home game of the season, and you're only pulling in crowds like that?

  • Comment number 31.

    I personally think this match could be the biggest of the season. If City qualify for the Champions League then the money that will come will be of no importance to them. However, it will make a new selection of players available to them. This could potentially elevate City further and they could consolidate as a top 4 side with the possibility of pushing on further. If Tottenham qualify then everything is still up in the air for me. The battle for 3rd and 4th will involve 4 or 5 teams. A City win could spell the end of Champions League hopes for a host of clubs.

  • Comment number 32.

    JoC - You make a good point but I'd argue Liverpool are the exception in this country in that they began outside the CL clique and, yes, because of their history (which surpasses almost all others and which is unique in that respect outside the top four) they managed to attract the necessary players to work their way into it.

    But, generally, the Catch 22 is that you have to be in it to attract the best quality players and without them you can't get in.

    That's what the big clubs intended when they forced Uefa to set it up for them. They wanted to create a divide and they've done it.

    The big clubs would always have been the big clubs (and I don't include Chelsea in that) but others would have got more of a look in, like Forest, Villa, Derby, Everton and others did pre- CL.

    Being in the CL brings massive immediate returns financially but, perhaps more significantly, it also means you can cherry pick the best players and managers (sometimes from those clubs who are attempting to reach that elite, thereby keeping them pegged back) all of which helps you stay there.

  • Comment number 33.

    Whatever the result of the City - Spurs game I hope it's good entertaining game. As for all the hype about Champions League, lets not forget that the team finishing 4th only goes into the play-off for a Champions League place and if they lose that then it's Europa League, and I don't see pundits getting over excited about that.

  • Comment number 34.

    Does he have to keep wearing that silly scarf? It's May Roberto, man-up and get the blue and white sleeveless t-shirt out of the cupboard you wuss!

  • Comment number 35.

    It is indicative of the desperation of trophyless Arsenal that they have to fall back on finishing above another club as an achievement

  • Comment number 36.

    "From 2012 to 2015, spending by wealthy owners like Sheikh Mansour will be restricted to covering total losses of up to £40m, falling to £30m from 2015-2018. City's owner, it has been estimated, would eventually be allowed to invest less than £10m a year in the club."

    Great blog Dan.

    his will change nothing and will be ignored. All City/Chelsea have to do is advertise the best exec box in the ground, perhaps over the half way line at a cost of say £150m per year to rent. Guess what, a mystery Russian/Arab then leases the box at this outrageous price. That then becomes income which would cover the spending sprees/debts. What is to stop them doing this? And what powers do either the PL or UEFA have to investigate or prove that the person leasing the box was actually given the money by the owner? Can they really delve into the origins of the money from UAE or Russia. No.

    Another irellevant rule change that will change nothing.

  • Comment number 37.

    Agree completely with Baz (24). One of the main reasons Spurs are in this lofty position this year is because of the size and quality of the squad, so even though there have been a large number of injuries this year the footballing quality and position in the table has been maintained. Compare both the benches on the first day of the season against Liverpool - one had a full set of internationals, the other had names I didn't recognise. Hoddle also said so on the day in his pre-match assessment.

  • Comment number 38.

    @ Rob Smiley

    ooh I see what you mean those 457 empty seats in the away end should really concern us..I mean your stadium had 624 empty seats...which by dint of mathematical certainty is a larger number n'est par?

  • Comment number 39.

    This match is only a champions league play off if Spurs win. Any other result and it goes on to Sunday.

    The only Champions League play off that I can think of was on the last day of the 2002/03 season, Chelsea v Liverpool, when that result decided the outcome of who qualified.

  • Comment number 40.

    I hope for the sake of football that City dont qualify for the Champions League.

  • Comment number 41.

    Champions League qualification will be a bonus for either side, but failure will hardly be a disaster. Both clubs are heading in the right direction and will spend in the summer to add to what they have.

    Harry Redknapp has a point in saying that the pressure is on City - more specifically it's on Roberto Mancini. Defeat could mean the end for him, while Redknapp knows he will still have his job next season.

  • Comment number 42.

    Come on Spurs! Tottenham have been in fourth most of the season, just as they were a few years ago until the last day. This is a game of Rich Foreign investment against English lifetime passion!

    Daniel Levy and Joe Lewis are like rock, cut them in two and you see Spurs at their core. Harry went for trials with Bill Nicholson and is a London club man through and through.

    Khaldoon Al-Mubarak - why, what, how? Oh - M-O-N-E-Y. Mancini - having a laugh all the way to the bank.

  • Comment number 43.

    And while we're at it, let's also look at attendance figures for last sunday.

    Eastlands attendance = 47,102
    White Hart Lane attendance = 35,853

    Those figures alone should worry Spurs fans. Your final home game of the season, and you're only pulling in crowds like that?

    I suppose you thought about relative ground capacities before saying that? No, didn't think so.

    Anyway am I alone in thinking that 4th place only gets into qualifying and so really represents no more than a grown up version of the Intertoto?

  • Comment number 44.

    '...Harry Redknapp claims of underhand dealing in the transfer market...'

    Whatever the truth of the Palacios story, there is something about Redknapp making this statement that just makes me laugh.

  • Comment number 45.

    Eastlands attendance = 47,102
    White Hart Lane attendance = 35,853

    Those figures alone should worry Spurs fans. Your final home game of the season, and you're only pulling in crowds like that?
    Thats our capacity for the moment but when our new stadium goes up the capacity will reach 58,000 and it will be a proper football stadium not a converted athletics track.

  • Comment number 46.

    Just goes to show that football today is ALL about business and not sport. You have the money (usually in the form of a "big daddy" owner) and you're on the starting line OR you don't, and you're trailing well behind. Today, Man City have, and Liverpool don't have. If a big daddy doesn't come soon and rescue Liverpool, they'll not be able to hang on to their stars and they'll languish in mid table. History counts for nothing.
    Of course, having a good manager helps, but if somebody has the best players they can bulldoze their way to the top.
    TBH I think Platini is fundamentally correct. Money is killing the game, and not only in England. In other leagues the title is a 2 or 3 horse race every year with smaller clubs finding it difficult to survive. For example, I'm predicting that more than one middle sized Spanish club could go under the coming season in the same way as Portsmouth.

    Oh, and one other thing: wouldn't it be fairer for the Premier to have 5 CL places, being a much better league than some of the others that have 4?

  • Comment number 47.

    I fail to see what the difference is between "buying a title" and "building a team". Could someone explain? Is it that "buying a title" means you are buying better players? Old Twitchy has spent plenty, and Spurs have well outspent City every season until Sheik Mansour - you could even argue that we're just catching up!

    Apart from that lad who scored against Arsenal - what a goal by the way - (Rose?) what other academy players have played this year for Spurs? We've had Neds, Micah, Ireland, Ibrahim, Nimely, Weiss, Cunningham, SWP, Boyata. We've used a fair amount of our kids this season.

    I'm a bit fed up of all the sanctimonius nonsense spat City's way. I've not yet heard a convincing argument explaining why we're ruining football, or why we're bad for the game in this country. The Premier League and Champions League have seen competition in this country decline to a point where you could predict the top 4 teams before a ball had even been kicked. All because of money. Now because there's a team that can bridge the gap, football is going to hell in a hand cart. Makes you sick.

  • Comment number 48.

    Never mind the football - look at my bank balance !!!

    We've got a bigger one than you - sponsor/owner that is !!!

    Come on guys, there is more to football than splashing the cash. Ask Real Madrid - Ronaldo, Kaka et al didn't get as far as little(?) Lyon.
    Torres hasn't saved Liverpool. Berbatov has ensured the safety of barn doors. Robinho only serves to prove it is easier to get a loan from Eastlands than your high street bank.

    Of course it helps to attract big names and be able to afford them, but most are mercenaries who care little for the club and will move on a whim to better their own personal situation. To find and nuture a Lionel Messi must be everybody's dream, but it should at least be everybody's ambition. Man Utd adopted that philosophy under Busby and, to a lesser extent, during the era that spawned Giggs, Scholes, Neville and Beckham. Arsenal have a slightly different model under the professor, whereby you get them young and develop them into football maturity.

    To build a football team takes time. Just acquiring big names with big egos and expecting them to gel into a unit is unsound. This philosophy will eventually bring about the demise of the game, because the fans are secondary in a culture where the players care more about the pay-check than the jersey.

  • Comment number 49.

    @ Rob Smiley #30

    "And while we're at it, let's also look at attendance figures for last sunday.

    Eastlands attendance = 47,102
    White Hart Lane attendance = 35,853

    Those figures alone should worry Spurs fans. Your final home game of the season, and you're only pulling in crowds like that?"

    Eastlands capacity: 47,726
    White Hart Lane capacity: 36,310

    So there were 624 empty seats at Eastlands, only 457 at WHL. What was your point, exactly?

  • Comment number 50.

    In my opinion I think that there is more pressure on Man City really. The problem they have is that they need the Champions League not for the extra money that it brings in, but to raise their profile around the world that they are serious contenders for footballs main prizes.

    I think that until City start showing consistently they are going to be in the Champions League, then the marquee players that they want will not really come there (I always smile that any player that has a good game one week suddenly gets linked to Man City).

    If you look at the big name players they have been linked with, and compare them to the ones they actually succeeded in getting you will see a definite pattern.

    Tevez, Robinho, Adebayor were all surplus to requirements at their respective clubs and noone was really interested in taking them apart from City, who paid over the odds on all 3 of them. It is now interesting to note that after only a season there, Robinho wants to get out of this "project", and by all accounts, so does Tevez.

    Lescott saw the money and decided to refuse playing for Everton (very unprofessional), again City paid well over the odds for him. Without wishing to sound disingenuous, City are like the chavs who win the lottery; they have tons of money, but dont really have the intelligence to spend it wisely.

    I will be supporting Spurs tonight, because i think we should be encouraging the success of teams that live within their own financial means, rather than off the back of a sugar daddy who could leave at any time.


  • Comment number 51.

    A huge prize ought to be at stake tonight and, indeed, it is for Spurs. The tragedy for football is that it is almost irrelevant to Manchester City because they do not play by the economic rules that apply to all the other clubs (except Chelsea). If there is no requirement to balance the books, you can attract top players by the simple expedient of paying inflated fees and higher wages than your competitors and City have made it plain that is what they intend to do, whatever happens this evening. Getting into the Champion's League might speed things up very slightly - that is all.

    With luck, City's "success" will also accelerate the day when clubs are obliged to live within their means. But right now success has become meaningless because the playing field is so far from level.

  • Comment number 52.

    #46 panchopuskas

    The two biggest issues that you have picked up on are to do with collective tv rights (Spain doesn't have them meaning that Barcelona and Real Madrid probably get more that the rest put together) and Platini and money where the amount of money that UEFA put in the Champions League distorts things in a greater way than most other issues.

    Platini could do something about the money distribution but so far, nothing.

  • Comment number 53.

    #5 and #32 are the most sober comments. I'm hoping City win, but whatever happens, I'm looking forward to a change in the status quo. As spooky says, the big European clubs have tried to create a closed shop. This selfisness/greed has brought about the huge spending at City. No sympathy. C'MON CITY. LET'S GET AT THEM.

  • Comment number 54.

    This match is definitely huge and can be seen as a match that will shape the future of Premier League football.

    If Citeh win then they can spend any figure they want. Yes Chelsea spent a LOT but there was still a limit to transfers and wages in the long run. It will really turn into Fantasy Football with Citeh though. The whole Kaka fiasco won't happen again because Champions League football and unmentionable wages will over-rule the relative lack of history of Citeh.

    To be honest I think City have under-performed this season if you compare their squad with Spurs' so hopefully Spurs can get fourth this year...if only to delay the inevitable for one more year...

  • Comment number 55.

    Oh well back to mediocrity of the 90s for us Liverpool fans...all we need now is to find the 'next' Neil Ruddock and Stig Inge Bjornabye...

  • Comment number 56.

    In reply to post 46

    For example, I'm predicting that more than one middle sized Spanish club could go under the coming season in the same way as Portsmouth.

    More than one club could, is not much of a prediction is it? more a genearlisation, which teams are you thinking of?


  • Comment number 57.

    It just goes to prove that all the Spurs supporters have got it wrong time and again by saying they don't spend much in the transfer market. £150 million in the last 18 months in transfers!!

    Lets hope City do it and it's St Totteringhams Day.

  • Comment number 58.

    Ha...I agree and really hope Spurs win their last 2 games and finish 3rd, not unrealistic as Arsenal's last 3 results have been awful plus Fulham are a good side.

    Spurs and City have great squads but Spurs have the better team ethic and superior manager.

  • Comment number 59.

    Yes Spurs have spent £150 million but they also sold about £100 million worth of players too. Plus the most the spent on a single player was about £16 million which is quite a contrast to City's spending style

  • Comment number 60.

    To everyone that has commented about Chelsea being top 3 and in the Champions League before the money came, so were Leeds in 2001. And look what happened to them. There's nothing to suggest the same would not have happened to Chelsea - if I remember correctly they had overspent too. Fact is, we'll never know. The difference is, clubs like Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd, Aston Villa etc have to do well to survive, or they will suffer. I suspect Liverpool are now going to suffer a lot if no buyers are found. But Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool have done well. If they didn't, they don't have the buffer of being the rich owner's toy. Failure is not so much of an option as it is for Chelsea or now Man City - they can just keep buying players to stay up there. This is what people dislike more than anything, and this is why people would rather see a club such as Tottenham get that fourth spot, rather than Man City.

  • Comment number 61.

    'The recession and Uefa's determination to tackle over-spending may well combine to ensure a less predictable, more balanced competitive environment'.

    Less predictable? More balanced? What like the 70s or 80s?!

    English football will always be dominated by a small handful of strong teams in every era. There's been nothing wrong with the last ten years, having four very competitive teams - just bitterness from fans whose teams haven't been one of the four.

  • Comment number 62.

    it is absurd to restrict a buisnessman investing in his buisness, platini wants to lean the table towards french clubs who cant afford to keep their good players

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi Dan,

    Good piece.

    How will the finanicals work if the four English sides enter the CL?

    All four sides are capable are capable of being in the group stages, unless they underestimate their opponents. [apologies not sure if third and fourth go straight into the pot].

    City v Spurs could be a belter - or a snoozefest.


  • Comment number 64.

    I think Platini's idea of only spending a percentage of what you make is a good/hounrable idea but would never work. With the financial rewards of getting into and ultimatley winning the Champions League so huge, clubs will do their upmost to get there. Also, it would be to difficult to moniter.

    In regards to tonights game, I think every Liverpool (and probably Man u, Chelsea and Arsenal fan) should be cheering on Spurs tonight. If Man City do get into the Champions League, they'll be nothing stopping the really BIG players from joining them. They have Champions League football as well as the money to bring in who they want. If they do make fourth, they'll be there to stay and will challenge to the title and Europe next year.
    If Spurs get there, I don't think they'll splash out as much and will therefore be unlikely to sustain their position in the top four.

  • Comment number 65.

    62. At 11:56am on 05 May 2010, BLUES55 wrote:

    it is absurd to restrict a buisnessman investing in his buisness, platini wants to lean the table towards french clubs who cant afford to keep their good players


    A good point that has been the subject of many conversations between me and my brother. The football governing bodies actually have no power whatsoever over how the clubs are run in business terms as it is the governments that are responsible for the laws. This is why I always laugh when people say the Premier League should have criteria for who can buy a club - they can't because that would infringe governmental laws!

    I actually think that if an affluent businessman takes charge of a club and ploughs money in with no expectation of return then this should be deemed as investment. Thus, the club would not be running at a loss as the investment would balance the books and this would mean that the club was running within its means. I do, however, agree with Platini in some form. A club that doesn't have this investment should be running at least at a break even over a period of time to enter such competitions - this would stop the gambling culture that currently appears to exist within football club ownership.

  • Comment number 66.

    "Some believe"?...... Some?

    This isnt a land of fairytales or opinion, this is simple cold fact, Roan. It's so simple you can put it in a mathematical equation.

    Champions League Status = Higher tier footballers willing to sign for your club.

    Some believe ... *rollseyes*. If you're too gutless to put the simple facts of football in (in your own words), then why should we take the time to read it?

  • Comment number 67.

    Nice move by Crafty 'Arry in crying Foul over the Palacious/Bellamy supposed high level MI5 deal.

    So Arry accepts the deal (if it were remotely true) then months and months later cries foul on the evening of the big match between Spurs and City.

    Is this the same Arry who is the moral standard bearer for ethics in football dealings in the UK?

    Awesomely funny Arry, you get the deal proposed, take it, then come out and say "Foul". What are you going to do, give Palacious back.

    Brilliant joke Arry you really are a comedian and of course a standard bearere for thge moral high ground in football. Another funny joke.

  • Comment number 68.

    Its odd that we have the morale high ground and actually some neutral support on this one, Im used to neutral fans hating us and wanting us to lose regardless of circumstance (anyone like to hazard a guess as to why? I think it begins with anti- and ends with ism).

  • Comment number 69.

    Re comment number 6. Abhey wrote:

    Den, dey, wid, dis...????

    Get some education for crying out loud.....

  • Comment number 70.

    #30. Rob Smiley,

    Hang on a moment...

    Eastlands attendance = 47,102
    White Hart Lane attendance = 35,853

    Those figures alone should worry Spurs fans. Your final home game of the season, and you're only pulling in crowds like that?


    Interesting point. You don't take into account the capacity of both stadiums. Health & safety forbid 47000 fans to attend matches where the capacity is only 36000.

  • Comment number 71.

    Has it been established that Platini's rules conform to European laws on fair competition, investment and movement of capital?

  • Comment number 72.

    Everyone is getting a little excited.
    if, a big "IF"
    Get into the knnock out stages,of the champions league,
    Then we may start to see a swing in expectations.
    but until then. I expect normal service to resume,
    Liverpool will not sell thier whole team this summer.
    and that team may have been not wuite with it this year.
    But that team is used to ten man defences every game, except when playing other rivals.
    Both man city and spurs will have to learn to live with that simple change, and break them defences down every single game.
    before they become a regular up at the top.
    the way the rest of the league approach your games,is the fact that makes the top four who they are year on year, with the occasional blip.
    and who gets to stay up there, will have to adapt and fast.
    Like spurs play counter attack football, and it works, so do man city.
    but when the defences are two lines of four just outside and inside the box.
    counter attack football goes out the window.
    no matter how well you did last season

  • Comment number 73.

    to #46 and #56-I think the teams that are in Spain that could be going the route of Portsmouth are Espanyol and Valencia to name two-Valencia are, from what I gather, clinging onto financial survival-this could have changed recently, but at the start of the season they looked like they could be going under. Its essentially the same with Espanyol, they are struggling finacialy as well due to like clubs in other 'bigger' european leagues trying to get into the champions league.

    As to the Man City v Tottenham game tonight, the finacial situation at both clubs suggests that whoever doesn't qualify for the CL then it wouldnt be disaterous for either of these clubs.

    That said I do think it would be harder for Spurs to maybe bring a real 'quality' couple of players, as the money gained from CL qualification could go towards these 'quality' players, whereas City can afford them for obvious reasons. In this case its maybe more important for Spurs to qualify in order for them to kick on in terms of winning a cup (F.A/Carling) and qualifying for the CL on a regular basis.

    Which brings me onto the idea that it is quite scary that clubs who do not have mega-money owners have to try and qualify for the CL in order to finance the players they bought to get them there. It would be a good thing, I feel, if the revenue from the CL was disributed a lot beter amongst clubs, instead of the rich clubs getting richer and other clubs going near to bankruptcy just in order to try and get a bite out of the massive finanical pie. Until this happens the CL is going to end up consisting of teams like Chelsea, Inter, Man City, Real, Barca, CSKA Moscow and teams who have endless pits of money, and teams like Milan, Valencia, Lyon, Lazio etc getting closer to extinction due to not qualifying for the CL and not getting the revenue that is important to them.

  • Comment number 74.

    Go on City!

    After seeing this famous football club slip right down to the lower reaches of the football league, and STILL maintain their impressive levels of support despite being utterly useless, you have to say the supporters deserve to see a competitive side.

    Spurs have been mediocre since 1961. Consistently throwing relatively large sums of money around ever since those days and the best things they have achieved since is to see a cup win here or there. They have consistently spent wads of cash to build "attractive", but spineless teams that fold under any level of pressure, and disintegrate the moment they get 10 miles away from White Hart Lane. I don't know why being such a bunch of pansies over the years has earned the label "attractive". Good football can be played without being so spineless and weak.

    Obviously the most compelling reason for wanting City to finish 4th though is that they will be able to hammer a much larger nail into the coffin at Liverpool FC.

    A periodic Liverpool relegation is long overdue now, and if City wield the wad, then Torres and Chav boy will be long gone, and Stoke, Wigan, Birmingham etc will be able to put a few extra easy points on the board.

    Once 'we' (meaning true football fans) can see Liverpool out of the premier league we can all rejoice once more as the FA, UEFA and BBC might finally give up their 'sponsoring' of this dour team and the rules, and media coverage can be applied fairly to ALL teams once more.

  • Comment number 75.

    Fat Bloke Down The Pub Said So - when they say 30% of revenue they mean that whatever your exiting revenue is, the Champions League will increase it by up to 30% depending on how well you do. So if say Man City have a current revenue of £100m and they have a good CL campaign they could increase it up to £130m next season - same goes for Spurs.

    I reckon Man City deserve it more, they will have a better team than Spurs next season and would do better.

  • Comment number 76.

    Of course City will find it easier to attract the worlds best players if they are in the champions league. the saga with kaka showed that the worlds best players were aware that they would look like mercenaries if they went to man city but if they are in the champions league then they have an reason to go to city other than money. And a valid one.

    For this reason i hope tottenham get in the champions league because i tend to dislike clubs who have a wealthy owner and buys their way to silverware. However if the Sheikh sticks around it is inevitable that City will be winning trophies in the future but if they fail to finish 4th it woll probably postpone this eventuallity.

  • Comment number 77.

    Thank you Dan. More information about the finances of the clubs and the laws governing clubs and finances is needed.

    How is that Spurs are so prudent? Do you explain using only 50% of their turnover to pay wages based on relatively low wages, huge revenues or both? What about other teams in the top four, especially Arsenal?

  • Comment number 78.

    Brilliant tactics from Harry trying to stir City for the game, however it may cost him an awful lot... you can't go round making false accusations if he lacks proof he could be in a lot of trouble should City pursue it and what with a tax-fraud case hanging over him will Spurs want to keep him around? He's becoming a bit of a liability at the moment. Let's hope City don't pursue it and just get on with the game tonight if not a defeat and another court case could see Redknapp gone not just from Spurs but football.

  • Comment number 79.

    ja0005 has it spot on. It isn't City that should be blamed for 'ruining football'.

    They are just the current cash-splashers at the end of a road that was started by the greedy Prem teams that wanted to keep their own TV rights and then ManU, Arsenal and their (later to be formalised) G14 mates who forced Uefa to create the Champions (sic) League.

    They wanted a guaranteed number of European games each year to get them more money and start to create the division we have seen develop. That (virtual) guarantee (Leeds fell foul of it while the idea was new), in turn led to interest from non-footballing people who saw it as a great income against which they could borrow while they built their worldwide 'brands'.

    Scrap the CL (which I'd happily do tomorrow) and return to a Champions-only straight knockout and you would see their proverbials for dust.

    Fewer European games means each one is more special. And less guaranteed income for teams in Europe means they can't elevate themselves further and further above the rest.

    It would also mean that the rest of the country (localised rivalries aside) could get behind 'their' representatives.

    Nowadays supporters of teams like Spurs, City, Villa and loads more have a clear, demonstrable vested interest in NOT wanting English teams to succeed in Europe because of the vast income it brings them putting them further and further out of reach.

    It's only a big lack of investment these past couple of years at Liverpool and City's cash-splashing that has threatened the top four cartel that has emerged (as they planned it would once fully-established) recently.

  • Comment number 80.


    I fail to understand why villa,everton,spurs chase 4th so badly
    they have failed to make any impact in the europa league for so many years because it stretches their squads to breaking point. they should first try and get a decent second squad together. it would serve no one better to get 4th and den get knocked out at the group stages every year. sure dey can get some better players by the lure of champions league....


    did someone else take over the typing in this post half way through? or did you just remember dat you was de bad gangsta half way thru?

  • Comment number 81.

    Very good blog Dan.

    I would like to sww SPURS qualify for the UEFA champions league. They certainly do have the team with the likes of Modric, Pavlyunchenko etc. However finishing fourth will not guarentee them qualify to the champions league group stage.

    As for Manchester city who are behaving like the Galacticos, they have to wait patiently with a good boss like Mancini. No need to sack him because he has done a very good jon at the helm. Changing Managers will only bring inconsistency which the owners do not want.

    Next year it may be Manchester United, Chelsea,Tottenham and Manchester City.

    The aim must not only be to reach to the Champions League but also sustain there for atlease a period of 5 to 10 years.

  • Comment number 82.

    17. At 09:10am on 05 May 2010, HawardenBlue wrote:

    To 'Andrew' 08:29.. "City like Chelse, got lucky" please remember Chelsea were a top 3 side (Champions league qualifiers) before 'lucky' money came their way for tradition, please please please, its the present and future that really count ?!?!? good being a club with plenty of history and not much of a future.


    actually Chelsea did get lucky, they had debts of 80mill plus and were in a cash-flow crisis (hence sold for only 17mn). Since the purchase the Russian oligarch has invested over 600mill in the club, it has yet to turn a profit or be self-sufficient as its CEO boldly predicted. Chelsea are sadly just an example of what rich benefactor's money can achieve, it is not a club that has grown organically. No one really thinks Chelsea could have afforded the 150mill+ payrolls or the 9 figure transfer fees sprees under both Ranieri and Mourinho. I don't blame Chelsea fans for rejoicing in the club's success but it has distorted the market and is unfair on clubs that have tried to achieve success without outside investment. Now Man City are planning to do what Chelsea did but with even more insane spending (City with turnover of 83mn are bidding 100mn on a single player). Personally clubs like Chelsea/City should be forced to fund the team operations from revenues from football operations only. The Abu Dhabi Royal family has 9% of global oil reserves and for them 100-200mill is not even pocket change, how on earth is any club supposed to compete with that?? don't bring up Madrid either as they have the highest turnover and spend whatever they make on the squad.

  • Comment number 83.

    I believe that spurs deserve the fourth spot more than city. Should spurs win tonight, it would be a fitting end to an incredible recovery under Harry.
    I am not a believer in money being the sole solution to compete in europe. Yes, spurs have certainly splashed the cash in the last couple of seasons, but the players were bought to improve the team as a whole. Harry adopts a traditional english attacking set-up, no frills. Quite simply one of the best sides to watch when in full-flow. Whereas with city, they have become another real madrid, where the emphasis is on money with players lured to the club by ridiculous pay offers - this is negative for english football, as some players will inevitably become lazy like spoilt little kids - think Robinho. There is simply no 'team spirit'.
    Yes, i back city in their bid to usurp united, as i believe, great though they are, that it is time for a new long term ruler of the premier league. But it disappoints me to think that english football, the best place for football in the world - should become a business as opposed to a sport.

    Come on you Spurs!

  • Comment number 84.

    Money, money, money, money, money, money.

    What happened to the sport?

  • Comment number 85.

    Lots of talk about clubs coming into money, who cares! thats life, get on with it ! Some people are driving luxury cars bought by their sheer hard work, others have been 'gifted' them, want to shame them into giving them back ? ..well there ya go.
    May the best team win tonight ..

  • Comment number 86.

    What people fail to realise is that some clubs like Man City and my very own Chelsea, although extremely lucky to get rich investors, have used these funds and decent management to invest in all areas from the roots level upwards. Abramovich has invested millions in the Cobham academy and we're starting (slowly admittedly) to see the fruits of that labour with Kakuta, Hutchinson, Bruma and Borini playing their part this season. Man City's academy has been flourishing and am impressed with Weiss and Johnson etc. I agree that both teams bought top players at a premium that were surplus to club requirements, but they've been instrumental in the clubs' success and scoring plenty of goals that were missing in the past. Chelsea set out a 5-year plan to stop losing money and they are, by and large, on track. They are, after all, a business and large ongoing losses are unsustainable. Key members of staff have been drafted in and they have been able to arrange significant sponsorship & commercial deals, (critical revenue for a club like Chelsea with only a limited - ca.45k - matchday attendance). All of this is great news for the fans and puts their/our minds a bit more at ease. I for one am disappointed Mark Hughes was fired as I think he did a great deal for City in terms of transforming them into an outfit fit for the big time (with Mancini now taking all the credit!) Arguably Mourinho did the same for us and gave us the confidence (as fans and players) that we could compete at the very highest level. I say good luck to both teams, Man City due to similar circumstances to Chelsea, and Spurs (cough splutter) for their English core and exciting playing style. Let's hope for a decent match!

  • Comment number 87.

    On the underhand dealings it was not just Harry who was making those comments it was Steve Bruce as well?? They gooing to do him for libal aswell?

    At least we finance our own stadium and don't get one handed over to us by the local council??

    No neutral fan wants city to get 4th place because they inflate transfer fees just like what happened when Abramovich first came in to Chelsea.

    I agree spurs have spent a substantial amount of money in the past season, 16million on Modric but he is worth every penny thou. Now let’s look at City? £20million for Santa Cruz and is not worth a penny.

    If your comparing getting good value for players Dawson was brought in for £5million from Notts' F and is now a shoe in for England, Lescot £24million pounds and has hardly played, and now Mancini made this joke of a statement that he will not play before the end of the season but is still fit for the WC???

    Now who has wasted more money????

  • Comment number 88.

    Not sure about Everton 'flattering to deceive' in their only Champions League adventure in 2005. Matched Villareal very closely over the 2 legs - a team that ended up just a missed penalty away from the final.

    In any case, good luck to whoever claims 4th. It just may be best to celebrate it as much as you can until August. Thereafter you may well find your way to the groups stages of the Champions League blocked by a more experienced team.

  • Comment number 89.

    As a Villa fan this is a tough one to call. If Man City win they will get their paws on Milner or Ashley Young. If Spurs win, Rednapp will be happy and everyone apart from spurs fans want that. He is simply awful.

  • Comment number 90.

    I'm a Gooner and would have to say that The Spuds deserve 4th. spot and CL football. MCFC are yet another example that money can buy you many things but certainly not love, nor class. My only worry is that Spurs nick 3rd place and Arsenal have to qualify for CL football. The team below us, it pains me to say, are better than us.

  • Comment number 91.

    to Flaming Haggis in #73

    Cannot comment on Espanyo, but the work being done to ensure Valencias financial position seems to be working, working with the bank, a rights issue and some good planning seem to be paying off

    If anything Valencia are a club to be applauded in this, with a cash strapped club, a young manager (Unai Emerey, at 38 he is younger than me)
    has led the club to a gaurenteed Champions league place with a win last night

    With the size of the clubs debts, selling Villa Silva and Mata wont make such a difference, so now that the creditors are happy with champions leaguse football, it is possible that Valencia will not need to sell their current excellent team

    Valencias previous owner may have dropped the club in it up to the neck, but the current administration is showing that a club can work through it, and stll qualify for the champions leauge (one more win from two games and Valencia is sraight into the group stages) and all without a sugar daddy

  • Comment number 92.

    City cannot buy a top four finish and I really hope Harry and Spurs show them that tonight.

  • Comment number 93.

    The Champions League is only big if you make the key stages. Celtic always qualify but never get much out of it, a[part from a few away day drubbings.

  • Comment number 94.

    Who cares who gets the final CL spot, there's another 86 clubs in the football league that never get a sniff of top european football so whoever does get it then well done, whoever misses out you're not alone and better luck next year.

  • Comment number 95.

    This was a good piece with some good insights...

    As a United fan, obviously I don't want City to win and for Spurs to qualify for 4th spot it would show that a club run the right way can still compete.

    If City were to qualify it would no doubt trigger a scary scary spending spree on a level never seen before (even the Russian at Chelsea realised the club needed to be run as a business!). I have a funny feeling that if City get all these big signings that have been talked about, they will implode as a team and underachieve (see Real Madrid for reference)

    Either way, I will be watching tonight with great interest.....

  • Comment number 96.

    @ Rob Smiley

    Epic coup de grace administered to Spurs in reference to home gates

    Some days you just want the earth to open up and swallow you. Don't you?!

  • Comment number 97.

    @The Midland 20

    I know, I thought exactly that. It's like one of his mates overheard him talking and he had to start acting Gangsta...

  • Comment number 98.

    COME ON YOU SPURS!!!!!!!!
    Harry Hotspur's army to win 3-1!!!!!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Here's an open question, who controls how the champions league money is distributed? If it's UEFA, then surely they could simply split the money between the national associations rather than the clubs directly?

    Winning a European competition (there used to be 3 that counted for something) used to be a matter of pride rather than finance. Take away the dash for cash and you may find that clubs start to live within their means and competition will actually increase. just a thought.

  • Comment number 100.

    I actually had a couple of points, but there seems to be some confusion so I'll try to clarify them.

    Point 1... the double standard of City spending £220 million and being accused of buying their sucess... against Spurs spending £150 million and people calling it "team building". You can't have it both ways. Both clubs are spending way beyond their means.

    Point 2... White Hart Lane needs replacing. Last home game of the season and it can't even hold 36,000 supporters? Ask Liverpool fans how easy it is to get a new stadium. At least Eastlands has a reasonable capacity, and room for expansion. Where in North London do you think you'll find enough space for a 50k+ football stadium and how much is it going to cost? 36,000 is nowhere near big enough to pay the huge wages Redknapp is reknown for.

    I can't work out how 'Arry does it. A track record of signing players on contracts the club can't afford (ask Southampton and Portsmouth how that worked out for them)... trying to balance long term financial commitments with short term transfer fee profits (you can only sell Berbatov once)... and when it all goes pear shaped, moving on to the next bunch of supporters.


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