Daniel Levy: why the Tottenham chairman is football’s biggest genius

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Spurs chairman Daniel Levy watches from the stands during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion on December 26 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Spurs chairman Daniel Levy watches from the stands during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion on December 26 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images) /

A look at some of the tenets that make Tottenham’s polarizing chairman strikingly similar to the world’s biggest genius.

Not many would argue that the biggest genius walking the earth right now is Elon Musk. The revered South African is the driving force behind PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors; and works on space Internet, hyperloops, and merging the human brain with AI in his downtime.

Unsurprisingly, Musk shares similar quirks to bygone geniuses such as Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein. More surprisingly – once you replace the giant lithium ion batteries and super heavy-lift, long-duration spaceflight rockets with footballing commodities – he operates in a pretty similar manner to Tottenham’s chairman.

Penny pinchers

Financial savvy is essential for success in any business, and both men manage to demonstrate painstaking frugality without compromising on quality.

Building rockets and sending them into space doesn’t come cheap – especially when it’s done out of your own pocket. However, where NASA or Boeing allocate $10 million for a project, Musk demands it be done for $10 thousand.

The tactic drives employees to their cognitive limits and often leads to innovations and improved quality due to the necessity to think outside the box.

Daniel Levy is another whose mind works like an abacus. Since Mauricio Pochettino took over in 2014, net spend has been less than £20 million (about the equivalent of Richarlison’s left leg in the current market).

To put that into context, Manchester City has a net spend in excess of half a billion during the same period; while, 19th placed Fulham recorded a net spend of £105.3 million in the summer transfer window alone.

The discrepancy between Tottenham’s balance sheet and consistent top three finishes goes against the grain of modern football and continues to baffle punditry deities.

Building in-house

Musk didn’t like what he saw in the vastly inflated aerospace market, and thus, focused on constructing rockets himself. Self sufficiency is a common theme for all Musk’s ventures, highlighted by enormous Gigafactories set up to meet Tesla’s battery demands.

Levy is overtly against the ‘unsustainable,’ soaring prices in football, and it has been over a year since he last signed a player. However, the former property developer wasn’t shy pumping money into Spurs’ state-of-the-art training facility – known to be the best of its kind – which has produced numerous stars littered around the top divisions.

The current Spurs crop is benefiting from a couple of homegrown Harrys; while, Oliver Skipp is among a fleet of other local lads looking to be the next to break through.

Of course, both men must dip into their respective markets occasionally, but prefer to apply the software internally to create the finished articles.

Attention to detail

Along the way Musk has never compromised on aesthetics, innovation, and attention to detail.

Musk’s insistence on retractable handles and wing doors are among features that give Tesla engineers extra headaches when bringing models to markets; while, over-the-air software updates mean Tesla owners receive the latest innovations long after their initial purchase.

Even more impressive are SpaceX’s reusable rockets. It wasn’t long ago critics dubbed it impossible; yet, since last year the company has been landing rockets safely back on earth – potentially saving the industry untold billions.

Tottenham’s new stadium is also teeming with Muskian features. The New White Hart Lane will boast the world’s first stadium micro-brewry (capable of pouring 10,000 pints a minute), a dividing retractable pitch (another world’s first), a see through tunnel, and USB ports built into heated seats.

The stadium’s sound maximizing design and aforementioned retractable pitch will allow the club recoup millions every year from NFL partnerships and music concerts held at the venue.

Overly optimistic

Finally, Elon is infamously over-optimistic when it comes to launch dates. You can comfortably add-on a couple of years while waiting for his products or services to come to market.

Mr. Levy also got a bit excited when predicting the opening of Tottenham’s new stadium. The latest delays confirmed March’s London derby will be played at the National Stadium – much to the annoyance of the Spurs faithful.

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One future date penned in on Musk’s calendar is 2025: the year we will colonize Mars. On that note, Tottenham landing top of the Premier League and Levy’s long-term project coming to fruition doesn’t sound so fanciful.

Levy is still a polarizing figure in the world of football, but not too long ago Musk was viewed as little more than a jester that had fortuitously profited from the dot-com bubble. The latter is well on his way to creating a sustainable, spacefaring future for mankind; and if you look closely, Levy may be forging a sustainably built, title-winning powerhouse in North London.