AS speculation mounts about the future of Sir Alan Sugar's shareholding in Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, the Premier League side he chairs, analysts question how likely a deal will be struck at the current asking price which values the club at [pound]140m.
In the last few weeks former Wimbledon Football Club owner Sam Hammam and porn magazine publisher David Sullivan have been linked with moves for some of Sugar's 39.9% stake in the north London side.
This weekend a deal with either party looks increasingly unlikely, which may annoy those Spurs fans who have been heaping pressure on Sugar to quit. Hammam went on record on Friday to deny any interest in Spurs or any other club following his decision to buy into Cardiff City. And sources familiar with Sullivan's plans played down suggestions that he was preparing to increase his 1% stake, indicating that the multi-millionaire publisher was not currently working on a takeover bid.
Indeed, club sources have also sought to quell expectations of any imminent deal. One says: "I don't think there is a 'situation' at the moment. I don't think there's anything there at all."
That said, Sugar is thought to be a willing seller at the right price and currently that is said to stand at about 140p per share, valuing his stake at close to [pound]60m. Analysts think, however, that the Tottenham chairman is being over-optimistic if a buyer can be found at that level when the market currently values the club at 61p per share. When BSkyB, the satellite television company, bid for Manchester United two years ago, for example, its offer was at an approximate 40% premium to the Old Trafford club's share price.
Since then, the value of football clubs has grown on the back of increased revenue from billion-pound television rights deals, but the Spurs balance sheet is likely to deter potential bidders from matching Sugar's demands. Some cynics noted that the speculation about a sale has begun as shares in the club started to underperform the FTSE-Allshare index for the first time in more than five years.
Sugar is reported to insist that any buyer be prepared to invest [pound]70m in expanding the playing squad and developing Spurs' White Hart Lane ground - and that this must not come from bank debt. …