Sugar strikes share deal

 

Alan Sugar last night picked up the telephone in Florida where he is on holiday and completed the deal that gave Enic a majority stake in Tottenham Hotspur. But fans expecting a massive cash influx for signings are likely to be disappointed.

The £22 million sterling deal will result in Enic owning 29.9 per cent of Tottenham, with Daniel Levy, the company's chief executive and a Tottenham season-ticket holder, becoming a non-executive director of the north London club. Sam Chisholm, the club's media adviser, is expected to step down as a director.

Levy, 38, will be responsible for overseeing a five-year plan for Tottenham. A formal announcement of the deal will be made this morning to the British Stock Exchange.

Sugar is to retain 13 per cent of the club but is expected to step down as chairman in February following a 10-year association with Tottenham. Sugar's initial investment in Tottenham was just under £8m sterling but he finally decided to sell his controlling interest following a constant campaign of criticism from fans.

Enic has made two previous bids for Spurs, the first in July 1998 when it offered £80m sterling for Sugar's 40% stake in the club. A second offer of £1.20 per share was also rejected in July but as Tottenham fans became increasingly hostile towards Sugar his family eventually convinced him to sell. The price of yesterday's deal was thought to be around 80p per share.

Tottenham fans expecting immediate change will be disappointed. Levy's advisers emphasise it will be business as usual until a new managing director and chairman can be found.

Levy hates publicity and has no desire to take on the chairmanship, preferring instead to find a figurehead and pull the strings in the background. City analysts who have followed the mediocre performance of Tottenham's share price warn he has a lot to do. "He's going to have to spend a lot of money if they're going to catch up with Arsenal," said one analyst. Enic owns stakes in five other European clubs: Rangers, Slavia Prague, Vicenza, FC Basle and AEK Athens.

Oliver Butler, editor of the business magazine Soccer Investor, said: "Tottenham will be Enic's flagship club but the company is unlikely to make millions available overnight. They have not done that with their other clubs and are unlikely to change their approach."