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Spurs: Whose risk is it anyway?

Zak Garner-Purkis

Spurs chief executive Daniel Levy is a renowned negotiator.

Such are his skills at securing a deal that one Premier League club owner once told the Daily Mail after transfer deadline day: “Daniel likes to squeeze your balls until your eyes start to water.”

So it’s hard to imagine that the club got anything less than an excellent deal when agreeing terms with contractors for its £850m stadium.

The problem – and I’m speculating here – might have been that Tottenham got too good a deal.

Tottenham chose to have direct commercial relationships with individual subcontractors, which also meant it appointed Mace as construction manager rather than overall main contractor. 

Sources working on the scheme believe that some subcontractors felt they were being “pinched” by the terms of these direct deals with the club.

A number of project insiders claimed this led to some trades acting purely in their own interests, rather than also considering overall project progress, which led to further complications and delays.

It appears Mace was therefore put in a difficult position, being only able to “advise” subbies – some of whom were said to be already up against it financially.

This is not an indictment of the construction manager model per say, but does illustrate its potential difficulties when projects enter challenging final stages.

One mystery many Spurs stadium observers are pondering is: where do the brunt of the project liabilities lie?

It’s impossible to speculate on the precise terms of Mace’s contract or those of any of the subcontractors.

Given Mr Levy’s reputation, it would also surprise nobody if he had made sure the club would be well protected from the financial impact of any delay.

Again, this is the point at which we are limited to speculation: we don’t know how much the FA are charging Spurs for using Wembley, for example, or the financial arrangements behind the NFL match that had to be switched following the delay.

Over the years Mr Levy has sometimes been criticised for running an excellent business at the expense of a successful football team.

Could this be an example of him getting a good deal on a stadium at the expense of a successful project?

Readers' comments (2)

  • Nothing but speculation, unsupported by any facts.
    This type of speculation and gas-bagging about contract structures and models without any experience is dangerous and unhelpful.

    Mace carry out many CM projects for a wide variety of clients around London - and it is a proven model. Such damaging speculation about this model of contracting is damaging to the industry and will raise false perceptions amongst inexperienced people in the industry.
    This route is far more collaborative and less punishing than lump sum fixed price main contracting - which the industry needs to move away from, and isn’t helped by this piece.

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  • it was always going to cost more than the budget, take longer than the programme, and the way it was procured just about sums it all up, don't expect the final payment will be forthcoming! and, just for good measure, keep the retentions!!!

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