Daniel Levy: Every word Tottenham chairman said at fans’ forum on Kane, Postecoglou, Conte, transfers, naming rights and more

Daniel Levy: Every word Tottenham chairman said at fans’ forum on Kane, Postecoglou, Conte, transfers, naming rights and more

Tottenham on Tuesday held their first fans’ forum in six years as chairman Daniel Levy gave supporters a rare opportunity to have concerns directly addressed.

Levy was joined by men’s manager Ange Postecoglou, women's head coach Robert Vilahamn and both new club captains Heung-min Son and Bethany England in a 90-minute Q&A session held at the stadium, attended by 250 supporters and hosted by radio and TV presenter Nihal Arthanayake.

Topics included Harry Kane’s exit, naming rights, ticket prices, appointing Ange Postecoglou, the managerial reigns of Nuno Espirito Santo and Antonio Conte, the summer transfer window, and more. Answers from Postecoglou, Son, Vilahamn and England have not been included.

Here is every word Levy said during the event.

Nihal Arthanayake: Can you give us an analysis of the last six years since we did one of these?

First off it's hard to believe it's been six years since we were last together. In the six years we've opened the stadium, we had the pandemic, we got into the final of the Champions League, unfortunately, we didn't win it. Then we came back here, we got Ange (big cheers), lots of things have happened.

NA: What were the costs of the pandemic?

I think people will never really appreciate how difficult it was for us. We had just opened the stadium. We had at that time and still do have more debt than any other club in Europe, luckily it was all long-term finance, but all of a sudden we didn't have any income.

The whole financing of the stadium was predicated on having income and it just stopped. Luckily for us we were very highly regarded in financial markets and we managed to get some assistance that enabled us to keep going.

It was a very, very stressful period and luckily the institutions that originally helped us, they refinanced the debt and we repaid the Bank of England. It was a cost of about £200million.

NA: Do you feel the stadium naming rights is a missed opportunity for revenue over that period and would that money have prevented the rise in matchday tickets? (applause)

There are a couple of questions there, so on naming rights, it's quite a complicated process. Unfortunately for us we got interrupted by Covid. To do a naming rights deal, it's got to be done with a company coming to visit the stadium and experiencing it, so that interrupted the process.

Since then we've taken the decision that as much as we would like the right sponsor, it's really important to build our name globally and all the events that we've had at the stadium have just enlarged the profile of this club.

So for us, we want to find the right sponsor, in the right sector at the right price and in the meantime, unless we get that, we won't put a name on the stadium. We'd rather just have Tottenham Hotspur.

In answer to the second question about pricing, ticket pricing is an area I know everyone is sensitive to and so are we. We haven't put ticket prices until recently, despite the fact that they've been fixed for over four years.

That's our general ticket prices. Premium ticket prices have gone up during the period. We're all facing increased costs, we've absorbed as much as we can, but you're right, if we had other sources of income maybe we wouldn't have had to do it.

But we're in a highly competitive industry and everything we do is to maximize the income to invest in the team.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

NA: What is the review process around the ticket prices?

We've agreed with the FAB that we're going to do a long-term strategy paper on ticketing in general. It's not just about pricing, it's about access. It will involve away ticketing and may get into things like membership. We're going to do a complete review and look at how we can improve things.

(Postecoglou, Son and England answer questions about captaincy)

NA: Was it an easy decision to appoint Ange in the first place? Can you talk us through the interview process?

It feels like a lifetime ago now. Actually it was very easy, because Ange I would say is just a normal bloke and it was wonderful to be able to have a conversation with him where we could talk about anything and he was very direct and honest.

I like someone who just tells me as it is, no one that plays games, no one that says one thing to me and then one thing to someone else.

NK: I can't think who you're talking about...(laughter)

I'm not talking about anyone else. This club needed to go back to its roots. (Applause) Honestly, there was a lot of pressure on me to bring in somebody that was a big name. I just wanted somebody who understood our DNA, would play attacking football, that would give young players a chance, believe in the academy, would build a relationship with the fans and understand the resources that we have and don't have as a club and be part of a team. Ange, I have to say, is a breath of fresh air. (Applause)

(Postecoglou on his impression of Levy, Son on squad huddle in front of the fans and a tough last season)

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

NA: What did you learn from the two previous managers?

Ummm (laughter). Maybe you'll be surprised by my answer but I want to win as much as everybody else (applause), but the frustration of not winning and the pressure from, maybe some players and from a large element of the fanbase, that we need to win, we need to spend money, we need to have a big manager, we need to have a big name and it affected me.

I had gone through a period where we'd almost won. With Mauricio [Pochettino] we went through some very good times. We didn't quite get there but we came very close and we had a change in strategy.

The strategy was 'let's bring in a trophy manager'. We did it twice and look you have to learn from your mistakes. They're great managers but maybe not for this club. For what we want, we want to play in a certain way and if that means it has to take a little bit longer to win maybe it's the right thing for us. That's why bringing Ange in was from my point of view the right decision. (Applause)

(Vilahamn on what he's learned from setbacks, Son on Postecoglou impact and England on avoiding relegation last season)

NA: How does the improved atmosphere make you feel?

It's simple: we've got our Tottenham back. I just feel that we're seeing football that we used to see and that's all that we want, to see the players give everything and play attacking football.

We want the fans to have a connection with the players and the staff to have a connection with the players. You feel it throughout the club, at this stadium on non-matchdays, at the training centre, we're together. It's so noticeable.

(Postecoglou and Son on the upcoming north London derby)

Fan question: If the European Super League came along again, would you consider it and also is there a buy-back clause with Bayern for Harry Kane?

Firstly under the new rules with the Premier League we can't consider leaving the Premier League without their consent and the FA's consent. All I would say to you is that we always act in the best interests of this club and I stand by the decision that we made, that we were prepared to have a conversation regarding the European Super League.

It was not leaving the Premier League, it was about forming a new European league that would have continued at the same time as the Premier League, but we felt that it was a disaster for a lot of reasons but I stand by my decision that I was acting in the best interests of the club.

NA: And the buy-back clause?

Ha, of course.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Fan question: What do the club need to do to support Ange for a proper cup run?

We need to provide all the conditions, whether that be appropriate players, facilities, the fans need to get behind the team and we all need to be one. That gives you the best chance of winning.

But Ange has won things at other clubs so maybe it's a question for Ange and what we need to do.

(Postecoglou answers, Vilahamn on playing at the stadium, Son on fashion and Postecoglou on time-wasting)

Fan question: How much is too much to pay to watch Tottenham Hotspur and can you give me a number and don't say 'it depends'?

We're all very conscious of the cost of coming to a football game. As I said before, we are going to go through a complete review of all of our ticketing policies, but we're in the real world and the costs of operating a football club have gone up significantly.

We're all facing difficult times and we had tried to restrict the increases for fans and we will continue to do that.

Fan question: What do you see the role of the academy as?

One of the reasons why we asked Ange to become our manager is that he believes in the academy. The relationship between the first team and the academy is really important. This is a club where we as fans get a great thrill out of seeing a player coming out of academy and into the first team.

We want to see that flourish and I think that over the years we've got some very good players in our academy and we'll see them coming into the first team.

(Postecoglou on the academy, transfer window, England on inclusivity)

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Fan question: What were the last few days of the transfer window like?

Stressful, very stressful.

(Postecoglou talks about Brennan Johnson and failed targets which are not named, Arthanayake thanks Levy for signing Maddison)

James needs to learn that he can't come to the training ground in a red car. I've told him. He'll learn.

(Son on his biggest challenge as captain so far, Vilahamn on half-time team talks, Postecoglou and Son on Richarlison and Postecolou on what Spurs can win this season)

Q&A concludes.