At the risk of hyperbolising, the year 2012 is one that could shape Tottenham's destiny for the coming decade and beyond. Mediocre for the majority of the 90s and early millennium, Spurs are no longer regarded as perennial underachievers, destined to finish the season in mid-table. Under the stewardship of Harry Redknapp, the Lilywhites have transformed themselves into a club capable of finishing in the top 4 and competing at the very highest level. However, the coming weeks and months will bring Spurs to a crossroads that could impact hugely on both the clubs short and long- term future. Various factors including Champions League qualification and the new stadium could determine whether Spurs continue developing into a major European football club, or one that returns to that unmemorable period of mediocrity and insignificance.
Short Term Future: Secure a top 4 finish and a place in next season's Champions League:
This is of course the result that everyone connected with the club is hoping for. With no disrespect intended towards the domestic cup competitions, an FA Cup medal is not going to keep the likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale at the club. These players deserve to play at the highest level; something they experienced and relished a year ago and the lure of the competition is essential to keeping world-class players at the club. With the money that the competition provides, there will be plenty of funds available to make some marquee signings to continue the improvement and development of the squad. Players of the calibre of Eden Hazard, Arjen Robben and Loic Remy have been heavily linked.
Finish outside of the top 4 and miss out on a place in the Champions League:
Unfortunately, on the flip side, due to a poor run of results, there now exists the distinct possibility that Spurs could miss out on Champions League football next season after an alarming slump in form at the wrong stage of the season. If this is to happen, fans must be aware that it could have a domino effect on the club that could potentially undo all of the progress made in the last five years both on and off the pitch. A failure to achieve qualification could not only lead to an exodus of the big stars, but it is also likely to be a struggle to convince top tier players to join. What's more, without the cash flow provided from the lucrative competition, the club could struggle to adhere to the Financial Fair Play regulations, with financial assessment due to begin at the end of 2012.
Long Term Future: The new stadium
At the heart of Tottenham's long-term future lies the Northumberland Development Project. The proposal is to bring a new 56,000 seater stadium to Tottenham within the next five years which in truth, is absolutely essential if the club is continue its progress. Spurs currently have the smallest stadium out of the so-called big clubs and in an era in which the Premier League is becoming more competitive than ever, the club cannot afford to be lagging behind in this department any longer. Plans have been in the works for some time now and those working on the project will be aware that time is moving on. A new state of the art stadium will provide the club with endless benefits. First and foremost, the stadium will supply a crucial boost in revenue. This in turn will give Spurs the opportunity to increase the current wage bracket as it seeks to attract the best and highest paid players. In Emmanuel Adebayor, Spurs fans are witnessing first hand the issue with the current wage structure and the need to compete with the clubs that offer the highest salaries. The club also has a commitment to the surrounding area. Last summer, we were a witness to the shocking riot scenes that began in Tottenham. The Northumberland Development Project would not just provide fans with a new stadium, but deliver a regeneration project to the whole neighbourhood, creating jobs, improving the infrastructure and boosting the local community.
At this juncture, Daniel Levy is facing his most crucial period as Spurs chairman and one that could define the legacy he will eventually leave. With a state of the art training complex due to open in the autumn, potential Champions League qualification and advanced plans for a modern arena likely to be sealed with a stamp of approval later this year, the future ought to be very lilywhite. However, further delays with the stadium and a failure to achieve qualification to the promised land will generate a whole different outlook. It is, in no uncertain terms, a defining few months ahead for Tottenham Hotspur.
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