Daniel Levy's £3.5bn valuation of Tottenham hinges on far more than north London derby bragging rights

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Daniel Levy (left) is pinning his hopes on boxing and NFL to elevate Spurs as a brand - GETTY IMAGES/MATCHROOM
Daniel Levy (left) is pinning his hopes on boxing and NFL to elevate Spurs as a brand - GETTY IMAGES/MATCHROOM

This is a big weekend for Tottenham Hotspur and chairman Daniel Levy, whose lofty valuations of the club are set to be put to the ultimate test as the North London derby shares top billing with Anthony Joshua.

Some industry experts believe Levy is living in a fantasy land over the £3.5 billion he is said to have recently quoted at least one party that was interested in making a bid for the club.

And the £25 million-a-year naming rights deal Levy had been hoping to secure after Tottenham’s £1bn stadium was opened, late, almost two-and-a-half years ago has so far put off prospective buyers.

Joshua’s world heavyweight title fight against Oleksandr Usyk will put Spurs back on the sporting map at a time when they are very much an undercard attraction in the world of football.

Had Tottenham not fallen out of the Champions League a couple of years ago, the club would almost certainly not have been able to stage the Joshua fight on Saturday night.

Anthony Joshua is fighting this weekend at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - MATCHROOM
Anthony Joshua is fighting this weekend at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - MATCHROOM

Not for the first time during Levy’s stewardship, Spurs fans could question where the club’s priorities lie during a weekend in which three points against Arsenal may not be the be-all and end-all.

Even though Tottenham’s retractable football pitch will be safely stored under the South Stand and will be looked after by robotic mowers and artificial lighting while Joshua goes toe-to-toe with Usyk, there is still a risk that the surface may not be perfect by the time Sloveian club NS Mura visit in the Europa Conference League next Thursday night.

It does not take an economist to calculate that, given the pulling power of NS Mura and Europe’s third-ranked competition, staging the Joshua fight so close to the tie was a gamble worth taking.

Aston Villa will be the next visitors just three days later, next Sunday, but Tottenham made it clear when announcing the Joshua fight in July that this is very much the future.

In a statement, Spurs boasted: “Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is not only the largest football club stadium in London, it is a multi-purpose venue, capable of hosting a range of events, 365 days a year - helping pump circa £300m into the local economy each year.

“Our stadium will host two back-to-back NFL London Games in October this year, with rugby and concerts scheduled for 2022, alongside Tottenham Hotspur football matches.”

Chicago Bears take on Oakland Raiders at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - GETTY IMAGES
Chicago Bears take on Oakland Raiders at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - GETTY IMAGES

Tottenham have so far used international breaks and the summer to schedule NFL and music concerts, all of which had to be cancelled or rescheduled during the coronavirus lockdown, but more events could be sandwiched into the Premier League fixture list if the Joshua fight passes without problems.

While three points and North London bragging rights are on offer at the Emirates, untold future riches could be at stake if Tottenham can help put on a show for a huge worldwide boxing audience on Saturday night and roll back out a pristine football surface in time for Thursday night.

That may not fill Spurs supporters with excitement, who want the football to be the box office attraction. But it may well represent the club’s best hope of trying to keep up financially with their rivals and encourage somebody wealthy enough to get close to meeting Levy’s valuations.

During the coronavirus shutdown, when supporters were not allowed inside stadiums, the idea of asking Tottenham’s billionaire owner Joe Lewis to invest some of his personal fortune to help balance the books is said to have been briefly considered.

But, unlike Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City, Lewis is not prepared to bankroll Spurs and his self-sufficient business plan relies on investment from banks, supporters, sponsors and growing the club globally.

Tottenham's billionaire owner Joe Lewis talks to Daniel Levy - REUTERS
Tottenham's billionaire owner Joe Lewis talks to Daniel Levy - REUTERS

That is why the Amazon Prime cameras were allowed in to capture the final days of Mauricio Pochettino and why the appointment of Jose Mourinho, the most famous football manager on the planet, as his successor, together with the return of Gareth Bale on loan for a season, represented value off the pitch that perhaps outstripped their value on it.

The latest head coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, does not have the same pull, which was why it was so vital to secure South Korean superstar Heung-min Son to a new contract and hold on to England captain Harry Kane - for so long now the face of Spurs.

Just as his valuations of the club and the naming rights for the stadium have been questioned, Levy has faced scrutiny over his decision to turn down an offer worth £100m for Kane, who had made it clear he wanted to join Manchester City.

But if Kane can get off the mark in the Premier League to secure a victory over Arsenal, so soon after the Joshua fight, then Levy may well feel empowered in his belief that he can still demand top dollar for Tottenham and everything that goes with it.

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