Tottenham Hotspur have made a signing that they hope will see them close the gap on the financial performance of their rivals.
Spurs have handed the role of chief commercial officer to Todd Kline, the American set to begin work in London next month with the goal of landing a lucrative deal for the naming rights of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the top of his ‘to do’ list.
After spending big – £1bn for that matter – on their new 62,850 seater state-of-the-art home stadium the north London side have yet to be able to agree a deal for the naming rights on the complex, with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy seeking around £25m per year for what would be one of the most valuable naming rights deals in world sport should a multi-year agreement be reached.
The heavy investment in the stadium has been seen as key to Tottenham’s desire to overtake the rest of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ and the financial strength that they possess as a result of their, on-pitch success, branding and commercial activity.
Last month saw Liverpool enter the top five of the Deloitte Money League for the first time since the 2001/2002 season, the Reds ranking fifth in world football’s revenue generation stakes with £490m last year.
Champions League success in 2019 and a Premier League title certainly aided that success but there were also a number of key commercial partnerships that developed during the same time to positively affect the balance sheet at Anfield.
One thing that does seem off limits is to try and monetise the naming rights for Anfield, something that while commercially valuable would be met with a large degree of ire by many. A bridge too far.
The same could be said of Manchester United and Old Trafford, a name synonymous with the football club, just like Anfield and Liverpool, where even the Glazer family haven’t yet dared to tread.
Arsenal’s move to a new stadium in 2006 allowed them to seek sponsorship free of the shackles of tradition and historical significance, the same for Manchester City at the Etihad Arena.
Spurs, so long associated with their old White Hart Lane home, have the same freedom when looking to monetise their hugely expensive but likely enormously lucrative new home, a home that, with its retractable pitch, allows them to generate further cash by hosting NFL games in London, a major money spinner.
In the latest Deloitte Money League only Manchester United were above Liverpool, the Red Devils still able to maintain their commercial juggernaut, leveraged through years of success under Sir Alex Ferguson, to such affect that even a near decade of mediocrity has failed to diminish their pull to sponsors.
Trailing Liverpool in fifth were Manchester City, with Chelsea in eighth.
In ninth, dropping two places on the previous year were Spurs, a club who have not borrowed to the level they have to not see the benefits further down the tracks, even if on-pitch success is foregone for the next year or so.
In Kline they see the man who they feel has the key to unlock some of that potential.
For the past two years, Kline has worked for the New York-based talent agency WME (William Morris Endeavor), overseeing all of their sales work for sports talent clients, in addition to premium property sales work and naming rights.
Previously he spent three years with the Miami Dolphins NFL franchise and was one of the key players in their £180m 18-year stadium naming rights deal with Hard Rock in 2016, a deal that was the highest ever attained in the NFL at that time and one achieved for a mid-market team. It was a deal, worth £10m per year to the Dolphins, that was hailed as a remarkable piece of commercial business.
Get all the latest Liverpool breaking news, team news, transfer rumours, injury updates plus analysis of what’s next for the Reds.
You’ll also get the latest transfer talk and analysis straight to your inbox every day with our FREE email newsletter.
Now he will need to weave some more magic in London.
Spurs need to monetise their new home and quickly, especially given the £600m debt and the continued implications of the coronavirus pandemic that Levy has suggested could cost Spurs as much as £150m by next year’s financial accounts.
Of course, the pandemic has been one of the major reasons why Spurs have been unable to make the ground up on Liverpool and the rest, their planned NFL games unable to take place due to COVID-19, likewise the Lady Gaga and Guns n’ Roses concerts that had been slated, as well as Anthony Joshua’s title defence.
Moving forward into a post-Covid world, however soon it may get back to some semblance of normal, Kline will need to make sure Spurs maximise what is the most cutting edge sporting arena in the world, an asset that nobody else possesses.
His success will ultimately ripple down to the first team at Tottenham, providing a heftier balance to work with in the transfer market.
FSG managed to creep up on the rest and outrun some of their competitors through their approach, although a lack of investment on the pitch risks putting that work into reverse if they do not address it in the summer.
For Spurs, they will be looking to do the same.