Spurs; takeover, sell, denial… what is going on and do we want it?

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

First, we hear news that Joe Lewis, Spurs majority owner, wants to sell the club for £1 billion. Then there is a denial, now we hear an American consortium want to take over. That is a newly formed American consortium. The company, Cain Hoy, said they are assessing an offer. The Spurs board quickly issued a statement stating that even though they had met Cain Hoy’s spokespeople “There are no ongoing discussions with Cain Hoy.” Joe Lewis had stated that while the club is dealing with an ongoing dispute with a business company (who is refusing to budge), so that they can start the construction of a new stadium, no sale talks would be held. Then on Tuesday 16th Tottenham and Takeover Panel confirm that the club is in an official bidding period with Cain Hoy: “Spurs and supervisory body have posted US private investment company’s interest in buying the club whose owner values Spurs at just under £1 billion” Cain Hoy now has until 5pm on Oct 10 to make an offer. Then Spurs published, on their Website, the following statement: “In accordance with Rule 2.10 of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Code”), THFC confirms that, as at the close of business on 12 September 2014, it had 213,102,209 ordinary shares of 5 pence each in issue. The International Securities Identification Number for THFC shares is GB0008962986.” I then read that a “US investment” company, who invest in the Premier league, had told the Telegraph that “Tottenham are not Arsenal, but they are in the same zip code. With the new stadium you would have a shot of spending the kind of money it would take to challenge the big boys.”

Who is Cain Joy? According to the BBC website they are a “newly established American private investment company focusing on global real estate, retail, media and entertainment,” it goes on and says that their Chief executive is “US-based Henry Silverman, a self-made hotels and car rental multi-millionaire.” The head of Investment in Europe is London born Jonathan Goldstein, who is the one leading the takeover valuation. I also believe that he is a Spurs supporter.

Of course, such American investment in our Premier League is not new. There are five American owned clubs. Arsenal has Stan Kroenke, who is a majority shareholder. Randy Lerner owns Aston Villa, while Fenway Sports Group, which is led by John W Henry, owns Liverpool. Sunderland is owned by the American/ Irish businessman Ellis Short. The most famous acquisition by Americans’ are by the Glazier family, who own Manchester United.

Would such a takeover – by Americans’ – be a good idea and would we, as fans, want it? The easy answer is we just do not know. There is an old saying “be careful what you wish for, as it might come true.” We all want more investment so that we can compete with the best in the Premier League and Europe; and that is what Daniel Levy wants as well (I hope). But he knows, as we, the fans, should know, that he is not going to achieve that with the current set up. For a start, our Stadium is not big enough to support the crowds we want coming in or the revenue it will attract. To get into the top four, at present, we will have to punch above our weight and have lots of luck on our side, and of course the right manager. Daniel Levy and Joe Lewis realised that, and that is why they commissioned a 56,000-seater stadium. Then, and only then, can we dream of truly parking ourselves in one of the money making top four positions of the Premier League.

American investment makes me edgy though. They have a different philosophy than the Europeans. Their philosophy is money based first. They do love sport though, but football (or soccer) is not part of their psych or identity.

Take the Glazier family. In 2005, Malcolm Glazer bought the club. In 2006, the club announced “£600 million debt refinancing package. This resulted in a 30 percent reduction in annual interest payments to £62 million a year.” In January, I believe the debt was £716 million. United then refinanced “through a bond issue worth £504 million, enabling them to pay off most of the £509 million owed to international banks.” United supporters were not happy and protested, even attempting to buy out the Glaziers’ controlling interest. That failed. I believe that Malcolm Glazer had never or hardly ever visited Old Trafford. So why take over United? Not because of the love of English Football. An investment? Of course, we must give credit where credit is due. Under the Glazier’s United had captured five Premier League titles in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013. They also won in 2008 the Champions League title. They are still one of the most bankable teams in the world. But at what price? Take Roman Abramovich, not universally liked, but he is a football fan and ACTUALLY goes to watch his team.

So that is my reservations in having American owners. Of course, we should not paint all American’s as greedy capitalists. I am sure there are people from that continent that actually love soccer and regard that sport as more important than money itself, and I am also sure pigs do fly (just look at Arsenal on their European excursions). At the moment, I am happy to stick with Levy and Lewis and wait and see what happens once they have built that 56,000-seater stadium. Will they be able to deliver us all that glitters or will we get a pig on a poke (and I am not talking Arsenal here)? Remember Levy and Lewis are true football fans and Spurs supporters. Long before Levy was thought of as director material he was a season ticket holder watching his beloved Spurs from whatever position his money could buy.

I suppose, if an American company wished to buy Tottenham Hotspur FC in the desire to breaking our beloved club up for profit, we could always go and support our nearest neighbours. Just imagine standing (OK, sitting) and cheering the team on “Come on you tossers!” OK, you are right, it does not have the same ring as “come on you Spurs”. Joking aside (or black humour aside), whatever happens we, the fans and club, are entering a new dawn. We must be positive, and expect – NO – demand the best for our great club. We are Spurs, therefore we are the best and want to reclaim our rightful place amongst the elit of English and European football. We did it once before, we can do it again. Tottenham Hotspur football club came from a humble background and grew steadily until we took the world by storm. We are still a top club. A new stadium, hopefully, will be the final piece in the jigsaw of recapturing our Glory, Glory Days.

Come On You Spurs, onwards and upwards!!



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