Tag Archives: Business of Sport

Q&A: Your questions answered on the new Spurs stadium and the state of the club’s finances

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Charles Richards / @spurs_report

I have written extensively about the new Spurs stadium and finance issues on this blog for the past two years. I get a steady stream of questions from Spurs fans keen to know more about the stadium, and the club’s financial health. In particular, the jump in construction costs to £800m has caused a considerable amount of concern.

Borrowing the idea from more imaginative bloggers, I asked my Twitter followers to send in their questions — and boy did you. I had more than 40 questions, *most* of which were serious. I’ve grouped the questions into subjects, and tried to answer as many as I can.


Any chance we can still have it called White Hart Lane ? How much are the naming rights going for ?
How far off are we from finalising naming rights? This year’s performance must mean we are in a stronger bargaining position?

There is zero chance the new stadium will be called White Hart Lane — well, unless you have £300m burning a hole in your back pocket and want to buy the rights for the next 10 to 15 years. Daniel Levy has made clear, from the outset of this project, that Spurs will look to sell naming rights, and nothing will make him deviate from this plan. It is an integral part of the project funding.

In terms of naming rights, we’re now into the window of when the club may announce it. Levy has previously stated that a deal is typically agreed after the midway point in construction: sponsors want to know the stadium is going to be delivered on time and as specified. In terms of an “optimum” time — you think once demolition of old White Hart Lane is complete, this would be the time to do it. That should be around September — but it is just conjecture. The announcement that Spurs were renewing the AIA partnership until the end of 2022 suggested there won’t be a joint shirt-stadium sponsorship arrangement such as Arsenal have with Emirates. It seems unlikely Spurs would agree to a short extension with AIA if a naming rights deal weren’t signed and sealed.

Whenever I tweet the words “naming rights”, a bunch of people say “it’s going to be Nike”. I’m pretty confident it won’t be — it’s a building, not a superstar striker. I wrote about naming rights a while back, and urged caution on what Spurs could expect — the talked-about £30m per year seems extremely optimistic. I hope I’m proved wrong — Spurs have picked a good time to go up a level in league performance, and the NFL tie-in may appeal to some companies.


Are we going to make more money next season at Wembley vs last season at WHL and how does that compare to season after at new stadium?
How will Wembley affect revenue? If we get nothing from food but how much of ticket sales do we get and will it counter the rent?

It is extremely hard to forecast what impact playing at Wembley will have on Tottenham’s bottom line. First, we don’t know how many tickets/hospitality packages Spurs will sell — maybe we’ll sell out every game, but I strongly doubt it — and second, we don’t know how much Spurs are paying. I’ve seen figures of around £20m per year bandied around. But do Wembley take a slice of ticketing income? And how are concession sales split? We just don’t know.

(Update: Spurs will NOT receive proceeds for concession sales. See comment below, with link to THST minutes)

However, we do know one thing: when full, Wembley is a cash cow, there’s a reason two Champions League finals and countless other major sporting events have been hosted there. If Spurs can come close to selling it out each week, and make a good stab at the corporate hospitality market, then, even with the rental fee subtracted, Spurs should easily exceed the modest £40m or so matchday revenue from White Hart Lane.

On the subject, here’s a fun fact: Daniel Levy once tried to buy Wembley. Talk about things coming full circle.


Do you have a feel for (or better, actual info) whether our players are *actually* underpaid compared to similar players at wealthier clubs? And, if so, how long will we need at new WHL before we can expect to see increase in wage spending (i.e. how long did it take other clubs)?
Revenue 2 wages we have always been 40% to 48%. If we try and up that figure to 55% will it make enough of a impact and what is he downside

Spurs had a wage bill of £100m in 2016, and revenue stood at £209m. The average wage bill of the other top six was £211m. Quite simply, Spurs have been playing in a different league to the other five teams, and it only underlines what a remarkable job Mauricio Pochettino has done.

However, things change quickly.

In the coming years, Tottenham’s revenue is going to soar: the next accounts will show Champions League revenue and the new PL deal (income from the latter alone will jump from £95m to £148m). From next season, we’ll have the additional income from Wembley, as well as another season of Champions League football. After that we should be into our new stadium and all the additional revenue that comes with that. There will also be the uptick from the next kit deal.

By my (very rough) projection, Tottenham’s revenue should jump to around £275 million next season, and the only way afterwards is up. Of course, Spurs will have stadium financing costs to absorb, but there is significant scope to increase the wage bill as required.

Spurs aren’t standing still. In the current accounting period, 13 Spurs players have signed new contracts, while Champions League participation likely will have triggered significant bonuses.

Are Spurs players underpaid? Sure they are — every single one could dramatically increase their earnings if they moved to another top six club. Ultimately, Chelsea and Man City are billionaire playthings and will always be able to offer more than a rationally run club such as Spurs. But Spurs, with every window that goes by, will be in a better position to compete. While we’re offering Champions League football, a chance to compete for trophies and be part of a close-knit and ambitious squad, plus the best manager in the league, we’ve got points in our favour too.

I don’t think the relatively low wages is just a case of Daniel Levy driving a hard bargain, Pochettino also appears to have made a virtue out of keeping a relatively fair balance of incomes among the squad. This will remain true through the years ahead — you’ll see the likes of Dele, Eric Dier and Harry Kane regularly sign new contracts, each time bumping them higher and higher, creating new ceilings. If Kyle Walker moves to Manchester this summer, it will be spun as “Spurs can’t afford to keep Walker”; but actually the situation is far more complex. Walker allowed his head to be turned, in the heat of a title race — for Pochettino, this may be an unforgivable breach of the team ethic by a player who is ultimately relatively easily replaced.

As for wage-to-turnover ratio, actually for Spurs it has rarely been in the 40 to 48 percent bracket. Generally, in the last decade, it has been between 50 to 60 percent. It topped out at 65 percent in 2013 — spending more on wages is no guarantee of success.

Spurs are hoping to bring it to about 45 percent through the stadium construction phase — but ultimately, keeping this special squad together has far greater financial benefits than whatever savings could be made achieving that ratio.

You can read my analysis of the 2016 accounts here, and I explored the issue of balancing stadium and on-pitch success here.


THFC in unprecedented position for title challenge. Balancing the books is laudable but why is the owner so reluctant to dip into own pocket

I’m guessing, the photos that spread about “Uncle” Joe Lewis’s new yacht didn’t go down too well?

As Spurs majority owner, Lewis has been consistent through his tenure: he doesn’t speak, and he doesn’t put significant money into the club. Spurs has always been an investment — ENIC stands for English National Investment Company. It’s been a hugely successful one. When ENIC first bought a 27% share in 2001, the deal valued Spurs at around £81m. The value now is comfortably above £1 billion.

Lewis’s worth is estimated at around $5.7bn, per Forbes, but, there has never been any indication that it is for spending. Nothing is going to change at this point. Personally, I’m fine with the current ownership — Lewis isn’t extracting money from the club in dividends, or borrowing against its assets personally, while Daniel Levy is an experienced and competent chairman who cares about the club. Success earned is far more satisfying than success bought — whether it’s dodgy Chinese tycoons, unpleasant Qataris or spivs pretending to be billionaires, be careful what you wish for.


How huge is the clubs debt stipulated to be when the stadium is built? And how much to be paid in annual mortgage/interest?
Seen suggestion Arse made big thing of making funding streams public while we’ve been more secretive. Any cause for concern/funding gaps?
We will be the most indebted football club in the world when the stadium opens, cant uncle joe lewis just pay it all off?

The simple — and scary — answer: we don’t yet know how big the debt will be, or how much it will cost each year. Spurs have agreed a £350m funding package with three banks, and this will be the main element of the finance. But, with costs set to top £800m, more money is going to need to be found. Naming rights and future ticket sales are the main two elements to add to the funding mix — but it’s not clear how much Spurs will actually be able to bring in and if another debt facility may be required. By my (very rudimentary) assessment, Arsenal’s finance cost peaked at £47m, and hovered around £40m for four years before being refinanced to a lower annual payment. Arsenal pay around £20m per year on their Emirates “mortgage”. Spurs will likely pay more as we are borrowing more, but it’s impossible to say how much it will be until the details are known. We’ll get our first look in the next accounts. In terms of length, think the mortgage on your house — this will be a long-term arrangement.

The transparency question is an interesting one. There’s a balance to be struck between keeping fans informed and protecting commercial information; Spurs will reliably err on the side of the latter. It’s just part of Levy’s personality, and isn’t going to change. The club has said it will announce the funding package, and I would expect it to explain the financing costs when the annual report is published. But we’re not going to get a running commentary, as the saying goes.

Will Spurs be the most indebted football club in the world? It depends how you measure it. Here’s a handy guide.

Manchester United’s net debt, at last recording, was £409.3m — Spurs may or may not end up topping this (I suspect Spurs will, not least as the club has already invested heavily in the training centre). United have that debt for the privilege of being owned by the Glazer family, while Spurs are going to have the best new stadium in the world. Technically, there’s a clear leader in the debt stakes — on paper at least, Chelsea owe Roman Abramovich £1.053bn.

And no, Uncle Joe isn’t paying off Tottenham’s debt.


Is the plan for the new stadium to be the home of the NFL London franchise (if it happens). If so do you think that’s good for spurs overall

Spurs have made clear they are building a home not just for themselves, but also for the NFL if the American league decides it wishes to put a franchise into London. The NFL has put a small amount of money in — around £10m up front plus a 20-game agreement that will be worth tens of millions — and has been actively engaged through the design and construction phase.

A year ago, I wrote that it appeared that the NFL was close to pushing the button on a London franchise, but there has been little in way of developments since then. There are major logistical hurdles: training, travel, tax, and those are just the things that begin with “T”. There’s another scenario, in which rather than having a franchise, the NFL plays a full eight-game schedule in London (or a full eight-game schedule overseas, including London, Mexico City and wherever else they take games). It works well with a 32-team league — each team plays overseas every other year, and loses a home game every four years. It gives London fans the chance to see regular NFL football, but without the risk of having to endure a terrible team such as the Jaguars on a permanent basis.

What does this mean for Spurs? The NFL deal is a winner as it guarantees that at least two of the 16 non-Spurs major event slots are used. Each one will probably be worth between £2m and £3m for Spurs, so the more they can get booked out, the better. The NFL connection may offer some marginal uplift in terms of naming rights, and modestly boost Tottenham’s profile in the USA. But if Cameron Carter-Vickers kicks on and represents Team USA regularly, that would probably be a far greater boost. If the NFL does decide it wants a franchise in London, then Spurs can help in other ways — for example in helping build a training facility, accommodating players, and so forth. Hotspur Way is becoming home-from-home for NFL players visiting the UK — they all head up there for marketing work, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has visited.


How much money realistically do we have to spend in the coming transfer windows?

Whatever Spurs spend, it will be dwarfed by what the other members of the top six spend, and possibly a few of those below. But there is money to spend if needed — Spurs found £30m on deadline day last summer for Moussa Sissoko, for example. I’d expect Spurs to have around £30m to £40m net over the next couple of summers, plus whatever profits can be rolled in from player trading. This summer, there is £18m of Nabil Bentaleb money to spend, and likely a decent profit on Kevin Wimmer if he moves on. Plus there could well be Kyle Walker money to spend. On the one hand, we’re not going to spend as much as Manchester United or Manchester City; but on the other hand, we have far less work to do. There’s nothing that should stop Spurs competing for talented youngsters such as Ryan Sessegnon, or spending big to fill the troubled right-sided midfield position.


Current match day revenue is £40m vs Arse £100m. Post stadium build will we eliminate this differential?
Aside from incr revenue from ticket sales, what are the significant commercial opps the new stad brings? What extra revenue could we expect?
How, specifically (like by revenue stream, can Spurs close the gap with other 5 and how does stadium help that?

The aim of the stadium isn’t to eliminate the gap in matchday revenue with Arsenal, it is to put Arsenal behind us. It’s not a design statement like Roman’s coliseum, if Chelsea’s new stadium is ever built: everything Spurs have done is about maximising revenue. Even without the NFL connection and facilities, it feels very American — designed to make you spend time there and open your wallet, whether you are in the South Stand, or in a Sky Box. Things have moved on a lot in the decade since the Emirates was built.

So aside from beers and burgers, how else can Spurs make money? There are 16 non-Spurs major events allowed each year, two of which are blocked out by the NFL. Spurs will want to fill as many of these as possible, earning between £2m to £3m a time. They may get some help from AEG to fill these slots. In addition, the club is marketing the stadium as a year-round destination, aiming to attract visitors to the Tottenham experience, restaurants and stadium tours; there will also, no doubt, be conferences hosted within the stadium. This will feel more tangible once the hotel and luxury housing is developed on the southern portion of the site — bless it, but Tottenham High Road is hardly Regents Street.

The area Spurs continue to lag most seriously is in commercial revenue. While Manchester United are a money-making machine, and Manchester City pump revenues to evade FFP, Spurs continue to fall further and further behind. The new Nike deal sums up the situation: a £30m annual fee brings parity with the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, but, seemingly out of nowhere, Chelsea tore up its Adidas deal and signed up with Nike for £60m per year. Spurs don’t seem aggressive or well-connected in this particular market, which is why I’m cautious on naming rights. For now, all Spurs can do is keep on winning and hope this brings new deals.


@basdaly How many Wheelchair Accessible Seats will there be in the New stadium ? Thanks

Per the planning documents, there will be 259 wheelchair spaces in the new stadium. In old White Hart Lane, there were just 51.

I’ve not yet seen confirmation of final number of wheelchair spaces as the seating configuration has been tweaked in the past two years. But, there’s no excuse for a brand new stadium in accessibility. If you look at the stadium cameras now, you can make out some of the areas for disabled fans — right in the centre, not tucked away in the corners.

The full section of the planning statement is here:

Screenshot 2017-05-22 at 9.48.24 PM


What happens if new stadium isn’t ready in Aug 2018? Could we play in a stadium that is maybe 4/5′s complete? Would we be allowed to?

The stadium, quite simply, has to be ready. The aim is to be ready for July 2018 — that will enable test events to take place before the season starts, or, heaven forbid, something like Europa League qualification. If it slips into August, there are contingencies — Spurs could open the season with a block of away fixtures, similar to what Liverpool did last summer as their new stand was delayed. Essentially, this gives Spurs until mid September due to the international break. After that, if the stadium still isn’t ready, it would be a second year at Wembley. Daniel Levy has confirmed that there is a contingency arrangement in place for that scenario. Unfortunately, Premier League rules prevent a team from having two home stadiums in a season, so there’s no chance of switching after Christmas, say.

It won’t be possible to play in a partially finished stadium — Spurs will be building the sliding pitch underneath the south stand, so it simply won’t work. Perhaps there is some leeway in terms of internal fit-out, but it promises to be an enormously difficult and stressful 15 months.

In terms of markers, Levy has said that the roof should start to go on in late January/early February 2018. If this happens, things are looking good. Spurs are pretty much working around the clock — here’s hoping they don’t discover any rare newts under old White Hart Lane.

That’s all I have time for — thanks to everyone who sent questions in. If you are looking for answers to specific queries, try the iSpurs section of the club website, or the stadium minisite — there’s a lot of information online. Some I couldn’t answer! If it’s really gnawing away at you, hit me up on Twitter or in the comments — it’s always nice to talk Spurs in the long summer month between post-season and pre-season tours.

The Boys Club: Less than 10 percent of Premier League directors are women


Rebecca Caplehorn, Spurs’ Director of Football Operations, with Mauricio Pochettino

*Update: This article was written and published before Margaret Byrne left Sunderland… Timing

When Spurs appointed Rebecca Caplehorn as Director of Football Operations in March 2015, she became the second woman on the club’s board, alongside Executive Director Donna-Maria Cullen.

This got me wondering: with two women out of six people in total, how do Spurs stack up with other Premier League clubs in terms of gender balance in the boardroom?

As regular readers of this blog know, my mind goes to pretty random things, and I love nothing more than setting off on a tangent. So I spent a little time researching this, using club websites and Companies House as the sources of information.*

So here’s what I found:

  • Out of 115 people listed as directors at Premier League clubs, 11 are women. That is 9.57 percent.
  • Just three clubs — Leicester, Sunderland and Tottenham (all 2) — have more than one woman director. No club has three.
  • No club has a majority of women in its boardroom. Sunderland is closest with 2 out of 5. Spurs are next with 2 out of 6. Southampton’s three-person board includes owner Katharina Liebherr.
  • Of the 20 current Premier League clubs, 12 have no women in the boardroom.

Here is the basic table, and I’ll add the full spreadsheet with all directors below.

Screenshot 2016-03-08 at 8.23.55 AM

By way of contrast, 26 percent of directors at FTSE 100 companies are women — up from 12.5 percent in 2011. There are now zero all-male boards. But less than 10% of executive directors are women, per Board Watch.

To me, these numbers seemed low, but predictable — football has long been a boys club.

This is starting to change as women such as Karren Brady, Marina Granovskaia and Margaret Byrne have assumed top roles at Premier League clubs. But clearly, the numbers show that the boardrooms remain overwhelmingly male. (I daresay a study of the racial makeup of Premier League boardrooms would show them also to be overwhelming white.)

Football remains a challenging environment for women, as this survey published to mark International Women’s Day shows.

The circus surrounding the employment tribunal involving Eva Carneiro, the former Chelsea team doctor, has been excruciating to witness. Even the most desperate C-list celebrity wannabe would find the attention piled on this woman over the top.

The media (or the shoutier parts of it, at least) don’t help in the portrayal of women in football. This is from the Daily Mail on the appointment of Granovskaia as new Chelsea CEO:

Her glamorous good looks will inevitably draw comparisons with the outspoken, perfectly groomed ‘first lady of football’ and Apprentice star Karren Brady.

But anyone ready to dismiss Ms Granovskaia as merely a pretty face should be aware of a core of steel behind the megawatt smile.

I’m guessing, if it had been a Russian bloke, we’d not be talking about his “megawatt smile”. This article was written by a female journalist, by the way, so this really is more a case of the Daily Mail being moronic, not men in general (and I’ve justified it all by reading it).

In keeping with the low-key, drama-free Tottenham 2.0, both Donna-Maria Cullen and Rebecca Caplehorn have kept their heads below the parapet since assuming their positions at Spurs. What little I’ve read or heard about their work has been entirely positive.

Cullen received rave reviews for her representation of the club at the Haringey planning sub-committee meeting when the new stadium scheme was given approval. Caplehorn has received praise in various articles concerning an improvement in how Spurs are going about the business of player trading and football operations — although this could be as much a dig at Daniel Levy as anything else.

So does the number of women running football clubs in England matter? It depends on your view of things. My guess, if you’ve read this far, it is because you feel this issue is either interesting, or important. But for many it will seem like a fairly trivial matter in the broader scheme of things.

My research was more a case of journalistic curiosity than some Guardianista attempt at being “right on”. I didn’t know it was International Women’s Day until yesterday, such is my high level of awareness — although I’ll admit I subsequently brought this piece forward so that it would be timely.

But I’ll add, from a personal point of view, I believe balance in all things is good, and if we had more women running companies, government departments and, yes, football clubs, the standard of decision-making would be higher. I’m sure there are thousands of studies that show the benefit of gender balance in the workplace and in management teams.

Certainly, less than 10% of women in Premier League boardrooms seems very low, and personally I hope that number increases in the years to come.


Thanks for reading. Please follow me on Twitter for more Spurs chat (and other random stuff).


*The primary source was Companies House. However, where club websites appeared more up-to-date, or provided more clarity, I used them to get the information. I counted all directors, but did not include club secretaries. Full data below.


The curious history of the inaugural Premier League shirt sponsors

In the course of researching a piece on Spurs, I found myself looking through a list of Premier League clubs from the inaugural season in 1992/93.

Wikipedia also helpfully listed the shirt sponsors for this seminal vintage of English football. At first glance, it struck me as an interesting list from a historical point of view — a real statement of where we were as a nation and economy more than two decades ago. Likewise, with seven online gambling sponsors and seven sponsors of various types from Asia and the Middle East, the 2015/16 batch probably tells us a lot about where things stand now in England, too.

Just like some of the clubs — Wimbledon and Oldham Athletic, anyone? — the sponsors have suffered divergent fates since their logos adorned the shirts of the new English footballing elite of 1992/93. So where are they now? I decided to take a bit of time and have a look, for no particular reason other than that I can.


From Daily Mail via Google Images

Arsenal — JVC

The Japanese TV and VHS pioneer was one of the longest running shirt sponsors, their red logo emblazoning Gunners shirts for 18 years. In 2008, JVC merged with home appliance maker Kenwood to form JVC Kenwood. The JVC brand remains alive, but has never quite hit the heights (insert Arsenal joke here).

Aston Villa — Mita Copiers

Mita Copiers was a brand of Mita Industrial, a Japanese photocopier manufacturer. Mita Industrial was acquired by Kyocera in 2000, and the Mita brand no longer exists. Kyocera sponsored Reading FC for three years from 2005 to 2008, during which time no doubt photocopier sales soared in the Berkshire area.

Blackburn Rovers — McEwan’s Lager

A once popular Scottish lager whose ups and downs and changes in ownership in some ways mirror Blackburn Rovers. The McEwan’s brand was sold by Scottish and Newcastle to Heineken, and with customer tastes shifting away from cheap lagers, McEwan’s Lager was discontinued in 2003. The McEwan’s brand has subsequently been sold again, to Wells & Youngs, and is on the up again, but talk of a McEwan’s Lager comeback has come to nothing.

Chelsea — Commodore International

A computer pioneer whose Commodore and Amiga machines were the starting point for many gamers. Commodore was overtaken and left in the dust by Microsoft, Apple and others. It filed for bankruptcy in 1994.

Coventry City — Peugeot

A French auto maker that is part of PSA Peugeot Citroën. The Peugeot 205 was one of the biggest sellers in Europe the late 1980s and early 1990s. Peugeot had a major factory at Ryton, outside Coventry, where it produced the 309, 405, 306 and 205 types. The factory was shut down in 2007. Top Gear did a piece on Peugeot, and, um, it wasn’t great.

Crystal Palace — Tulip Computers

A Dutch computer company that manufactured the Tulip PC. The Tulip PC was simply a copy of the IBM PC, and unsurprisingly IBM sued. The case, per Wikipedia, was settled in 1989. Tulip acquired the Commodore brand name in 1997, sold it, and then tried to by it back on the cheap a year later. Tulip changed its named to Nedfield, but went bust a year later.

Everton — NEC

An information technology and electronics manufacturer, part of Japan’s Sumitomo conglomerate. Employs more than 100,000 people worldwide.

Ipswich Town — Fisons

A pharmaceutical, scientific instruments and horticultural chemicals company headquartered in Ipswich. It was acquired by Rhone-Poulenc in 1995. Rhone-Poulenc merged with Hoechst in 1999 to form Aventis. Aventis mergerd with Sanofi-Synthélabo in 2004, and became Sanofi in 2011. The freehold of the former Fisons headquarters site, closed in 1995 and empty since, has recently been sold to a developer.

Leeds United — Admiral

A British sportswear brand that, despite ups and downs as new entrants such as Umbro and Adidas added competition, continued to supply English and overseas teams through the 1990s. Moved into cricket in the 2000s, supplying the England team. Nowadays supplies the West Indies cricket team, and some football teams including AFC Wimbledon. Very much second division in sportswear terms — much like Leeds.

Liverpool — Carslberg

A Danish brewer that has, per its own statistics, a 14.2% share of the UK beer market. Employs more than 40,000 people worldwide.

Manchester City — Brother

A Japanese electrical equipment manufacturer, most notably of printers. Sponsored Manchester City for 10 years until 1999. Employs more than 30,000 people worldwide.

Manchester United — Sharp

A Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer. Sponsor of Manchester United from 1983 to 2000 and whose logo will always be associated by Red Devils fans with the rise of United under Sir Alex Ferguson and the treble winning team of 1998/99. Revenues of $28 billion in 2014.

Middlesbrough —  Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI)

Formerly Britain’s largest chemical manufacturer, it was acquired by Dutch multinational AkzoNobel in 2008. Parts of ICI were then sold off to Germany’s Henkel corporation, and the ICI brand ceased to exist. ICI had two key manufacturing sites in the Middlesbrough area — at Billington and Wilton — and former parts of ICI continue to operate at these sites.

Norwich City — Norwich and Peterborough

A building society founded in 1860. It was merged with Yorkshire Building Society in 2011 and ceased independent trading. N&P at the time of the merger was the ninth largest building society in the UK, but became undone with its decision to sell Keydata Investment Services products. Keydata collapsed leaving investors out of pocket to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, and its founder was fined a record £75m by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Nottingham Forest — Shipstones (home)

A brand of beer brewed by James Shipstone & Sons in Nottingham. Production at the brewery ended in 1991, but the brand was continued for several more years. The Shipstones brand was brought by a beer enthusiast in 2013, and is making a comeback in the Nottingham area. Labbats, Canada’s largest brewer and part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev empire, sponsored the away shirt.

Oldham Athletic — JD Sports

A sports retailer founded in Bury. Per its corporate website, has 800 stores “across a number of retail fascias” — or to put it in English, owns a number of high street brands in addition to JD Sports, such as Size? and Blacks.

Queens Park Rangers — Classic FM

A national radio station for classical music founded by GWR and launched in 1992. Now part of Global Radio and still going strong — but hasn’t sponsored any more football teams. QPR was brought by music executive Chris Wright in 1995 — his Chrysalis Radio group would eventually be sold and become Global Radio. I’m not sure it really connects, but it’s all a bit circuitous, perhaps as one would expect for a club nicknamed The Hoops.

Sheffield United — Laver

Arnold Laver is a timber company. While manufacturing has moved out to Mosborough, Arnold Laver’s headquarters remains on Brammall Lane next to Sheffield United’s stadium. Arnold Laver were the main sponsor of Sheffield United from 1985 to 1995, and Arnold Laver himself was a director for 30 years. The South Stand at Brammall Lane used to be the Laver Stand.

Sheffield Wednesday — Sanderson

A Sheffield-based software company that provides solutions to retail and manufacturing businesses. Its founder, Paul Thompson, became a director and largest shareholder of West Brom before selling his stake. He also became involved at Southampton, which also took the Sanderson sponsorship. Sanderson was followed as Sheffield Wednesday’s shirt sponsor by Chupa Chups.

Southampton — Draper Tools

A family-run tools business based in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire (which is also where the headquarters of DIY giant B&Q is located). Draper Tools sponsored Southampton from 1984 to 1993, taking over from the now defunct Air Florida. Draper Tools is going strong under its third generation of Draper ownership.

Tottenham Hotspur — Holsten

A brewer originally from Hamburg in Germany. Its most famous brand is its pale lager, Holsten Pilsener. Holsten was acquired by Carlsberg in 2004. Holsten sponsored Spurs from 1983 to 1995, and again from 1999 until 2002. Still going, but never really hit the big-time — insert Spurs joke here (for the sake of balance at least).

Wimbledon — No sponsor

It wouldn’t be long before there was no club, or possibly two, depending on your view of these things. For readers of cached versions of this blog in 2045, MK Dons was where the great Dele Alli started out before being bought by Spurs for a bargain £5 million in 2014.


So, an interesting list. Much like today, there were a fair number of Asian sponsors, but mostly Japanese in reflection of the strength of corporate Japan at the time. Out of the 20 sponsors, eight no longer exist (or like, Shipstones, are fundamentally different businesses). In 23 years time, let’s see how many of the online gambling companies and forex/accounting software providers on the current Premier League shirts are still going strong.

For what it’s worth, of the original Premier League teams, 11 are no longer in the Premier League. A further four (Palace, Manchester City, Norwich and Southampton) have experienced relegation. So quite a high attrition rate, and puts the longevity of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs into context.

Thanks for reading. Please follow me on Twitter for more random musings on Spurs.