Iranian-American billionaire Jahm Najafi is preparing a blockbuster $3.75bn takeover bid for Tottenham Hotspur, the Premier League football club, according to two people with direct knowledge of the plans.
Najafi, who is the chair of MSP Sports Capital, is working with a consortium of investors to structure the bid and is weeks away from formally approaching Spurs owner Joe Lewis and the football club’s chair Daniel Levy, these people said.
The Najafi and MSP-led offer would value the club’s equity at approximately $3bn before adding about $750mn of debt on the club’s books. The bid is structured so that MSP and its partners will put forward 70 per cent of the purchase price, while backers from the Gulf, mainly from Abu Dhabi, will contribute the remaining 30 per cent.
A takeover of Spurs, the North London-based club, could mean it spends more to challenge for the Premier League and other trophies. ENIC, a vehicle connected to Bahamas-based billionaire Lewis and chair Levy, bought into Spurs in 2000, buying a 26 per cent stake from the businessman Lord Alan Sugar for £21.9mn.
Its ownership has been praised for shrewd financial management, the construction of a new stadium and regular qualification for the Champions League.
But Spurs fans have been increasingly frustrated by the lack of trophies, leading to recent protests against the ownership. The club’s last major title was the League cup in 2008. Managers including José Mourinho and the incumbent Antonio Conte have been unable to add to the trophy cabinet, despite highly rated players including Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.
The Najafi-led group’s interest in the football club extends to real estate and development rights that are available through its ownership, one of the people said. Spurs have played in a modern stadium since 2019, allowing the club to host events beyond football matches, such as National Football League games, rugby matches and music events, in a move that reduces reliance on football for ticketing income.
Najafi is the latest US billionaire to seek to join the ranks of English Premier League club owners. In the past year, Chelsea was acquired for £2.5bn by a consortium led by US financier Todd Boehly and private equity group Clearlake Capital, while an investor group led by businessman Bill Foley acquired Bournemouth for £120mn.
Like Chelsea, Spurs is seen as a member of the so-called Big Six group of clubs — also including Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United — that regularly compete at the top of the table in the European Champions League.
Spurs reported revenues of £444mn in the year ended June 2022, jumping from £361mn the prior season, as fans returned to the club’s home ground after being excluded during the coronavirus pandemic. The club made a net loss of £50mn.
As global interest has soared in the Premier League, some longstanding owners have started considering an exit. The US billionaire Glazer family, which has owned Manchester United since 2005, is exploring a sale of the club, while Liverpool Football Club’s US owners at Fenway Sports Group have said they are also looking at a sale.
Najafi, until recently, was a minority shareholder in the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns, which was acquired in a $4bn deal in December.