Tottenham Club Focus – Does Levy face the decision of support for Redknapp or duty to Spurs?

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp will stand trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court on the 23rd January 2012 for two counts of cheating the public revenue. The prosecution alleges payments were made to a Monaco bank account for the purpose of tax and national insurance avoidance.

Charged under his real name of Henry James, Redknapp has been charged alongside Milan Mandaric, the alleged offences relating to their time at Portsmouth FC between 2002 and 2008. Both men have denied the charges. The trial is estimated to last two weeks during which Redknapp may miss Spurs’ potentially crucial matches against Manchester City, Wigan and Liverpool.

This is a poor time for Redknapp coming after a minor heart operation on the 2nd November. If Redknapp follows medical advice, he may miss three further Premier League matches on top of the recent Fulham game. Or potentially, in total, nearly half of Spurs’ league matches between the beginning of November 2011 and February 2012. Redknapp is also likely to miss the climax to the January transfer window.

The trial may have far reaching implications for the 64 year old Englishman, who is favourite to take over as manager of the England team. If found guilty, arguably considering the sums involved there could be a fine and suspended sentence, though the penalty could be higher. Either way, it would end his chances of taking the England reins. It would also probably end his time at Spurs. The Premier League and the FA may decide that he had breached their Codes of Conduct, brought the game in to disrepute and suspend him from any form of football activity.

In some ways for Spurs, the outcome is immaterial, except from a personal perspective. If found guilty, Redknapp may be forced to resign from Spurs. If found innocent, he may well be the next England manager. Surely the more immediate concern for Tottenham is the disruption to the team during the season? This will not just be for the missing games. There will be preparation for the trial, meetings with lawyers etc, which Redknapp may have to attend. Perhaps naturally, there will be disquiet in areas of the squad about the focus Redknapp can bring to his role. Redknapp said himself at the beginning of March this year that he found it difficult to concentrate on his job because of the investigation.

Spurs are one of the “in-form” teams of the Premier League, look to have a good team spirit and capable of challenging for a top four place. The task for Daniel Levy is to ensure there is minimal disruption to the squad. There is a fine law in this country – innocent until proven guilty. Arguably and perhaps correctly, Redknapp should be given the full backing of everyone involved in the club and get on with his job.

However, are there also practicalities here? With all the potential disruption to the club, could or should Levy ask Redknapp to take a leave of absence. This would allow the manager to recover from his operation, prepare for and attend the trial. In the meantime Spurs could focus either through Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan – or a temporary managerial posting – on team affairs without the attending media circus that may come. Levy may face a tough decision – support for Redknapp or duty to Spurs.

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