Behind Closed Doors: Dreams and Nightmares at Spurs
Andre Deutsch Ltd (1992)
This book is the first detailed view of football ever presented from the boardroom. It describes in gripping and colourful detail the nine years during which Irving Scholar, principal shareholder of Tottenham Hotspur and chairman of the club from 1984 to 1991, was involved with the game. This is the first time that Scholar has broken his self-imposed silence and he describes how he got involved in negotiations with Robert Maxwell in an effort to help the club and finally selling to Alan Sugar.
The story is all the more valuable because it goes beyond Tottenham to the wider world of football, where Scholar was intimately and prominently involved with the plans for the formation of the Premier League and for contracts about televising football. Scholar was in charge at Tottenham during a decade when football went through a crisis, with the disasters at Bradford, Heysel and finally Hillsborough, throwing the game into chaos and making it almost a plaything of the politicians. Scholar had to deal with issues such as ID cards, the banning of alcohol, the Taylor Report and several politicians eager to impose their fiat on the game, including Mrs Thatcher, Colin Moynihan and others.
Scholar also discusses with great perspicacity the peculiar nature of English football, comparing it with the vastly different world of the Continent. There an Agnelli can be an owner, but in England a Hanson is not involved. Why? Discussions of these and other questions provide an added dimension to the book.
What Scholar and Bose have to say is all the more relevant and urgent given the formation of the Premier League and the problems its television contract with Sky have caused. By the end of the story the reader will have been taken into the corridors of football power, heard the true details behind the headlines that have dominated the back pages for almost a decade, met some of the men who make the decisions, and gained a real understanding of how English football works and why it is in the state it is in.