On the face of it, Daniel Levy’s comments on selling a stake, or potentially more, in Tottenham were platitudes, marking no material change in ENIC’s long-held position, but the timing of his remarks nonetheless feels significant.
“If anyone wants to make serious propositions to the board of Tottenham, we will consider it along with our advisors,” Levy told Bloomberg overnight.
“And if we felt it was in the interests of the club, we would be open to anything. We are only custodians of the club. We want to take this club to another level...and if someone came along and we felt they could take us to another level, we’d look at it.”
With 30,000 shareholders owning 13.5 per cent of the club, Levy and the board have a duty to consider any offer for Spurs, be it for a minority stake or majority control. While Levy’s comments do not materially change ENIC’s position, this is the first time the 61-year-old has been so frank about his openness to investment, and the timing and very fact of the interview are noteworthy.
Levy very rarely speaks publicly — his last interview with a print publication was with this newspaper in 2019 — and, when he does, there is usually a reason.
Spurs say Levy has historically owed an interview to Bloomberg and there is no relevance in the timing, but it is hard not to read the chairman’s candid comments as an open-armed appeal to potential investors, particularly given the platform on the world’s biggest business channel.
There are certainly reasons to think the time may be right for ENIC, who bought the club from Sir Alan Sugar for just £21million in 2001, to consider cashing in.
Joe Lewis, Levy’s long-time business partner who was previously considered Tottenham’s owner, was indicted in July for allegedly “orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme”, a US attorney said. Lewis had “ceased to be a person of significant control” at Tottenham and ENIC in October last year, with his stake in both companies passing to beneficiaries of the Lewis Family Trust.
The 86-year-old has denied 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy, with his lawyer describing the indictment as a “egregious error in judgment”. But it remains to be seen what impact, if any, the case could have on Levy, ENIC and ultimately the club. It has long been assumed that Levy and ENIC will eventually countenance a full sale, cashing in on their investment over two decades with an enormous profit.
Selling a minority stake would, however, potentially be appealing to Levy in the medium-term, allowing the chairman to remain in control but significantly increase spending power and Spurs’s ability to compete with their richer and, in some cases, state-backed rivals.
There are certainly reasons to think the time may be right for ENIC to consider cashing in on Tottenham
As Levy says, this kind of investment would potentially allow Spurs, a club which has long been managed under a tight set of financial parameters by ENIC, to potentially go “to another level”, enabling them to compete for trophies and cement Levy’s legacy.
Selling a minority stake would not be without its complications, however, particularly as it might make it harder for ENIC to complete a full sale in future.
Levy is understood to have met with Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the Paris Saint-Germain president and chairman of the Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), in January for exploratory talks over a minority stake, but QSI are not actively looking at Spurs at present, having moved on to other opportunities.
Spurs deny the meeting took place, but Levy is understood to have talked to a number of potential investors in recent months, and confirmed to Bloomberg that there had been offers from the Far East, the Middle East and the US.
Spurs say Levy has never put a price on the club, but Forbes valued Spurs at £2.2billion this year, making them the ninth most-valuable club in the world.