Who Owns Tottenham Hotspur?
The question of ownership has been a long and colourful one since Tottenham Hotspur were first listed as a public limited company back in 1898. Owners have often clashed with managers within the club and Keith Burkinshaw’s parting words – ‘there used to be a football club over there’ are still thrown at the existing men in charge.
Identifying the current Spurs owner as a brand is fairly easy but what, exactly, do we know about the company and the individuals that run Tottenham Hotspur FC in the present day?
The Current Position
As of April 2020, the Tottenham owners are ENIC International Ltd. They are a British investment company run by Joe Lewis and they are registered in the Bahamas. Previously, they were a private investment trust who floated on the stock market in 1997 but before that, ENIC began to acquire shares in football clubs.
Along with Spurs, ENIC have shares in Glasgow Rangers, AEK Athens, Slavia Prague, FC Basel and Vicenza Calcio. But it’s their position as Tottenham Hotspur owner that we are interested in. At this present moment in time, ENIC holds 85.55% of the Tottenham Hotspur company while the balance is in the hands of some 30,000 individuals. That’s the current position but the story regarding ENIC’s involvement is an interesting one.
ENIC Take Over
Those with a passing interest in football will likely be aware that the businessman Lord Sugar was once the main Spurs owner and also the chairman of the club. At one point, Sugar and former manager Terry Venables were jointly involved and Spurs were a strong force in English football in the early 1990s. Sadly, the two men fell out and the team disbanded but Sugar held on.
At that point in time, ENIC International had some involvement in the company, having first acquired 29.9% in shares in 1991. It’s said that 27% of those shares were purchased from Alan Sugar for some £22 million. By 2000, Sugar started to consider his position at the club and, as he looked into selling up, ENIC seemed an obvious candidate to step in.
ENIC International Ltd had previously made a bid to become the outright Tottenham owners but they were increasingly rebuffed. It’s said that they originally looked to take over the club in 1998 and then again in July 2000.
Alan Sugar wasn’t interested on either occasion but over time, he seemed to grow weary of the constant criticism that came his way. From the Terry Venables’ sides of the early 1990s that looked destined for major trophies, the club was a mid-table Premier League outfit at best and the fans weren’t happy. Finally, a year after the second failed attempt in 2000, ENIC had their wish.
Negotiations took place and, accordingly, ENIC International Ltd took a controlling interest in the club in 2001. Sugar sold the majority of his remaining shares to the company and Daniel Levy was then installed as the new chairman. There were new Tottenham owners in charge of the club and one of the first things that Levy did was to replace the existing manager George Graham with former Spurs midfielder Glenn Hoddle. This was rather in keeping with the merry-go-round of managers that followed Venables’ departure but this practise of rapid hiring and firing seems to have slowed down for now.
Between 2000 and 2010, ENIC began to build up their shareholding and would eventually acquire all of Alan Sugar’s shares. Currently, they have that 85.55% controlling interest and are firmly at the helm of everything that goes on at the new White Hart Lane.
The Men Behind the Company
When we talk about ENIC International Ltd we’re largely focussing on two men. Most of us will be more than familiar with Daniel Levy who took up that post as chairman of the club in 2001 and has been in the position ever since. He’s now the longest serving chairman in the English Premier League and has shown no sign of stepping down since he acquired the hot seat.
His relationship with ENIC began in the early 1990s and in the present day, Levy holds a 29.4% share in the company. He was made Managing Director of ENIC in 1995 and has therefore been active within Spurs since his company started to buy their way into the football club across the 1990s.
It’s said that Levy is a lifelong Spurs supporter and that his father was the owner of Mr Byrite – who some fans will remember as a popular clothing brand through the 1970s and into the 1980s. After graduating, Daniel Levy went into the family business but he extended his interests into property development and other concerns. During this time, Levy met Joe Lewis and from there, things were about to change significantly.
Spurs fans will be aware of Joe Lewis and while he’s the major shareholder, less is known about him. As Chairman, Daniel Levy is very much the ‘front man’ while Lewis is in the background to an extent. That’s mainly because he now resides in the Bahamas and is approaching his mid-80s. Lewis’ hard work is done as far as business is concerned but he maintains that majority share in ENIC International Ltd while Daniel Levy does all of the groundwork.
Lewis was born in East London in 1937 and left school at the age of 15 to work in his father’s catering business. As Tavistock Banqueting, the business expanded when Joe Lewis took over and he began to sell luxury goods to wealthy American tourists. Lewis then made a significant profit when he sold the business in 1979 and then moved into currency trading.
This was very much the beginning of ENIC International Ltd and it helped to fund his move to the Bahamas. Shortly after that, he would meet Daniel Levy and their growing interest in football clubs started to develop. As we have seen, Tottenham Hotspur would fall under their radar and, in 2001, after holding shares in the club for some time, they eventually became Spurs owners.
That’s the story behind the two men but will they continue to remain in charge for the foreseeable future or is it time for ENIC to sell up and move on?
ENIC International Ltd have been in charge of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club for nearly twenty years now and in that time, they have continued to acquire more shares. Having overseen a transformation in recent years that includes the building of the new stadium, it doesn’t appear as if they will be going anywhere soon. As we have already seen, Daniel Levy is now the longest serving chairman in the Premier League and there is every suggestion that he will go on way past twenty years of service.
Many supporters of the club might want to see a change at the helm – perhaps a rich Russian Oligarch or an Arab Sheikh who can step in with the sole aim of throwing money at the club and building up a big transfer war chest.
There’s no sign of that yet: Levy and Co seem set on seeing this project through and, in years to come when we ask who owns Tottenham Hotspur, we don’t expect this position to have changed.