If a report from the Express is to be believed, Tottenham Hotspur are on the verge of being sold to American billionaire Phillip Anschutz, or more likely, his company Anschutz Entertainment Group. The deal would be for £450 million and would be AEG's first foray into the English Premier League, but it would hardly be the first time they have gotten involved in sports.
Englishmen may know AEG from their ownership of the O2, which they turned from a money pit into a very successful mall and arena, but sports fans know AEG as owners of the Los Angeles Kings and minority owners of the Los Angeles Lakers. This is in addition to their football interests as owners of the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Houston Dynamo and a 49% stake in Hammarby. On top of that there is AEG Live, a subsidiary of AEG, which is the second largest presenter of concerts and events worldwide, and their ownership of several sports and entertainment venues around the world.
In short, AEG knows sports, events and venues. That is their bread and butter and with Spurs nearing a deal for a new stadium, AEG could be the perfect owner to take over. Nobody else would be able to maximize the revenue opportunities presented by the new stadium quite like AEG.
AEG's success ranges from building and operating stadiums and arenas around the world to booking events at those arenas to make the money printing machines. Most impressive, though, is their incredible success in maximizing sponsorship opportunities and revenues. Their ability to secure the largest naming rights deal for a sports venue ever is proof of that, as they got a deal worth $700 million, possibly rising to $1 billion, for their proposed football stadium in Los Angeles. If Spurs want revenue maximizing experts, AEG is the way to go.
Tottenham and AEG are not starting a relationship from scratch either. The club and AEG planned on partnering on the Olympic Stadium had Spurs won the bidding for it. Also, Anschutz and current club owner Joe Lewis are friends. With Lewis not exactly making it a secret that he wouldn't mind getting out of the football business by selling Spurs, it wouldn't surprise anyone if there had been preliminary, hypothetical discussions between Anschutz and Lewis in the past and only now -- with the stadium situation looking closer to a done deal than every before -- has the American decided to make this move.
The report suggests that AEG would look to keep Daniel Levy on to run the club, which would be vital to ensure Spurs' future success. In their time running football and hockey teams, it is clear that AEG are brilliant businessmen and are also willing to spend on their teams. It is also clear that they struggle to find the right people to run the sporting side of things and their teams have been poor at times because of poor hires. Keeping Levy and not asking AEG to find the right man to run the football part of the club would ease the biggest concern about any AEG takeover.
In all, an AEG purchase of Spurs would be brilliant if Levy stayed on. Levy has proven himself to be very good at running a club so there would be no worries there, while AEG would be able to make more money out of the stadium and sponsorships than anyone else. AEG's ownership history also shows that money would go back into the team, meaning that the club would continue running as is with Levy in charge, only with far more money on hand. Nobody in a white shirt could find a downside in that.
Of course, this is still just one report from one tabloid and it comes without named sources or quotes. This is not a done deal by any means, nor is it even proof that they have been talking. It is very much a rumor and nothing more. To the credit of the reporter, Tony Banks put his name on this instead of calling it a staff report and he did not qualify the story with "maybe" and "possibly." This is his story and he's standing by it, but it is still just one report from the Express.
Do not hop on the "AEG is buying Spurs!" bandwagon because we are a ways off from that, but as far as rumors go, this one isn't too bad. At the very least, it is logical. It passes the smell test with nothing standing out as impossible or even unlikely. There isn't anything in the slightest that is ludicrous so that is a start, but a rumor is still a rumor. If only this rumor can be true, though, because if it is and if Levy stays onboard, this could be a game-changer forTottenham.
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