Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) are the latest Premier League club to be the subject of takeover interest with news that the Iranian American businessman Jahm Najafi has put together a consortium who want to buy the club.
The current owners ENIC are prepared to sell the club – if the price is right.
Who is Jahm Najafi?
Najafi runs an eponymous private equity firm in Phoenix and is a partial owner of the Phoenix Suns NBA team. He is also vice-chairman of the McLaren Formula One racing team and is chair of MSP Capital, which recently expressed an interest in buying Everton Football Club.
Through his company, MSP, he is set to put up 70% of the money to buy Spurs, with the remaining 30% coming from Middle East investors.
Although Tottenham have not won a major trophy since 2008, they remain an attractive proposition, given that they are based in London and can boast a state-of-the-art new stadium, which has already been used to stage NFL games as well as major boxing fights.
ENIC, a Bahamas-based investment company, owned by Joe Lewis, whose public face at the club is chairman Daniel Levy, apparently value the club at £4 billion, which is in excess of the £3.1 billion the Najafi consortium is offering at the moment.
The two parties are due to talk in the coming weeks.
If Najafi succeeds, he will become the latest in a growing list of American owners of Premier League clubs.
Arsenal have been owned by the Kroenke family, who acquired majority control in 2007, and took full ownership in 2018.
Aston Villa, who were previously owned by another American, Randy Lerner, have, since 2018, been owned by the NSWE Group. They are a joint venture between Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and American investor Wesley Edens.
Bournemouth were sold earlier this season to a consortium led by American businessman Bill Foley, with the Hollywood actor Michael B. Jordan holding a minority stake.
Chelsea have famously been bought by a consortium led by Todd Boehly, a minority owner in the Los Angeles Dodgers, who has recently bankrolled their spending spree in the January transfer market.
Crystal Palace are majority owned the American John Textor, and an investment group Palace Holdco LP.
Their London neighbours Fulham have been owned since 2013 by Shahid Khan, a Pakistan-American businessman.
Liverpool are owned by the Fenway Sports Group, who have a number of other sports franchises in their portfolio, among them the Boston Red Sox. FSG have indicated they are willing to divest their stake, but no identified bidders have yet been disclosed.
Manchester United have controversially been owned by the Glazer family but they are currently for sale, and they may find themselves in the hands of new people by the end of the season.
In addition to the above, an American businessman Albert Smith owns a minority stake in West Ham United, whilst an investment arm of the San Francisco 49ers NFL team currently has a substantial minority stake in Leeds United, and the option to assume full control in the near future.
Why do Americans want to buy Premier League teams?
Americans buying Premier League teams are not inspired by philanthropy, but because they consider it a sound investment.
The Premier League is the richest domestic league in the world – and getting richer. The recently published money list for Europe’s richest clubs indicated that 11 out of the top 20, and 16 out of the top 30 came from the Premier League.
And the report’s authors predicted that soon all 20 Premier League clubs will feature on the list.
No other league makes so much in TV rights, and, indeed, makes more money from overseas rights than it does selling domestically.
The fact that other European leagues are worried by the financial power of the Premier League is reflected in the latest attempt to reboot the European Super League project – without English clubs.
Meanwhile, interest in football (soccer) is growing in the US. Premier League matches, which are broadcast live there, are attracting record audiences, and, with the country staging the next World Cup in 2026, along with co-hosts Canada and Mexico, the numbers following the game are just expected to keep growing.
Anybody owning a Premier League club can expect their asset to grow in value. The Glazers, for example, can expect to get back five times or more than original investment of £800 million, without taking into account the millions they have taken out of the club in dividend payments.
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