Tottenham star Harry Kane has been praised by Leyton Orient CEO, Danny Macklin, after sales in the club’s shirts spiked after it was announced the England captain would be sponsoring them next season.
Orient are one a number of lower-league clubs who are counting the financial cost of the Covid-19 outbreak, with it likely to be confirmed following a meeting of clubs next week that the League Two season will be brought to an end early.
Clubs at the level of fourt-tier Orient rely heavily on matchday revenue to finance themselves, and thus the prospect of playing games behind closed doors would hit them substantially.
They are also unable to justify the costs of regularly testing players and staff, which some estimate would cost them £200,000 just to complete the 2019-20 campaign.
As such, Kane has stepped in to make a sizeable contribution to the club for whom he made his first appearances in senior football during a loan spell in 2011.
The then-17-year-old scored five goals in 18 appearances for the O’s, and wanted to give something back by paying for three different charities to have their details printed onto Orient’s kit for next season.
The home kit will display the message ‘Thank You to Frontline Heroes’ while the away shirt will be adorned with the logo of Haven House Children’s Hospice. The third kit will display the logo of mental health charity, Mind, with 10 perc ent of each shirt sale going to the relevant charities.
Macklin has been astounded by the impact of the gesture, and revealed that even fans of Spurs’ great north London rivals, Arsenal, have been ordering the shirts.
“He is a first class individual,” Macklin told Goal of the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner. “He has helped provide vital income and exposure and is raising money for three fantastic causes.
“One week on, we have already sold more shirts than we did in the entire 2019-20 season. It is unbelievable. We have had to place two top-up orders since. We have had enquiries from around 113 places to buy the shirt, and we have had 100 orders from the USA. It has been phenomenal. We even know of Arsenal fans buying it and applauding what Harry Kane has done!
“That is welcome at an important time, and we will be able to make some donations from the proceeds to the three causes. It was much needed support and comfort along with other things we are doing. It gives us assurances in terms of finances, but there’s an awful lot more to do to be a sustainable club.”
Not much was expected of Kane following his time at Orient, and he spent further time on loan at Millwall, Leicester City and Norwich City before becoming a regular in the Tottenham line-up under Mauricio Pochettino.
Since then, though, he has become one of the most feared forwards on the planet, winning two Premier League Golden Boots as well as finishing top scorer in Russia at the last World Cup.
And Macklin feels the 26-year-old is now a role model both on and off the field for what he has achieved.
“He is a role model to people like my son,” Macklin said. “We all want an England footballer we can be proud of. He started his professional career on loan at Orient, which was a perfect fit.
“A number of people said he was going to be a star at the time and that he ultimately had the talent, but he needed to put in the work to reach the levels he had. He can be an even bigger star in a couple of years. Every award, record or goal Kane has got is totally deserved.”
For now Macklin is fully focused on keeping Orient afloat in the new footballing landscape, with a number of EFL sides waiting to see just how bad the damage is to their respective finances in the coming months.
Sunderland co-owner Charlie Methven has called on the government to bail out struggling clubs or else they risk being ripped out of their communities, while Gary Neville, who co-owns League Two side Salford City, believes wealthier clubs in the Premier League should save lower-league sides.
Macklin himself feels it is wrong to ask for more support from the government at this stage, and he instead expects that the Premier League will step forward to help clubs who are in need of funding.
“Will Covid-19 make an impact? Absolutely, yes. It will be longer and more difficult to get around those obstacles but as a lower league club we have to use this opportunity to drive change.
“Not just within the club, but within all our expenditure base and make sure we are driving all our revenue forward as creatively as we can. It is an opportunity we may not get again.
“I agree with Gary Neville’s opinion [about not taking public money]. I echo pretty much everything he says, I don’t think we can go cap in hand to the government at this stage. There might be a stage when the game needs that, but right now we need to make sure we have our own houses in order.
“We need to look at what the game can do. That’s not just taking it from the players’ pockets – that’s across absolutely everything we do. The money that comes from the Premier League that filters into parachute payments is extraordinarily high and just a redistribution of that could allow clubs to be sustainable.
“That, along with creative thinking and treating it like a business, will allow us to enjoy what we enjoy most – competitive football.”