Tottenham distance themselves from Joe Lewis after insider trading charges

<span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/KiWAO6E9PZdKCg5Hi7z4VQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/b431f84237d07276c1213f292202c821″ src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/KiWAO6E9PZdKCg5Hi7z4VQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/b431f84237d07276c1213f292202c821″></img></p>
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<p><figcaption><span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA</span></figcaption></p>
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<p>Tottenham have sought to make it plain that Joe Lewis is no longer the owner of the club after he was charged on Tuesday with insider trading by US federal prosecutors.</p>
<p>The 86-year-old Bahamas-based billionaire, who faces a 19-count indictment – 16 counts of securities fraud; three counts of conspiracy – stepped back from his publicly stated position at Spurs on 5 October 2022 in a move that was also signed off by the Premier League’s board. As such, the Premier League does not feel the need to take action against Spurs in response to the charges that have been brought against Lewis. If convicted, the boy from London’s east end made good faces a lengthy jail sentence.</p>
<p><span>Related: </span>Tottenham Hotspur owner Joe Lewis charged with ‘brazen’ insider trading</p>
<p>The change to the ownership structure at Spurs was not extensively reported on at the time but it has certainly come to feel more significant in the wake of events over the last 24 hours. Spurs are 86.58% owned by Enic and the investment company itself is 70.12% owned by the Lewis Family Trust. The Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, and certain members of his family hold the other 29.88% of Enic.</p>
<p>As of 5 October, Lewis ceased to be a part of the trust – even though it retained his name – or to be a beneficiary of it. Two trustees were appointed to run it on behalf of his family. They are Bryan Antoine Glinton and Katie Louise Booth; Bahamas-based lawyers with no background in football. The changes with regard to persons of “significant control” at Spurs were recorded at Companies House.</p>
<p>Lewis has always entrusted Levy with the day-to-day running of the club and rarely gets involved in the decision-making. He is mentioned infrequently on the club’s website, although he did get a reference in the shareholder information on 12 December 2022.</p>
<p>It was noted “a discretionary trust of which certain members of Mr J Lewis’s family are potential beneficiaries ultimately owns 70.12% of the share capital of Enic”. Previously, the Tottenham website had said that Lewis had the interest in Enic. It is not known which of Lewis’s family members stand to benefit. Equally, it is difficult to say how large or small his influence over them might be.</p>
<p>A source close to Lewis insisted that he only recently became aware of the charges being prepared against him in the US – and certainly well after the changes to the ownership structure at Spurs. Lewis is known to have reorganised the finances of many of his other investments. “It’s in line with what most rich 86-year-olds would do,” the source said.</p>
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Chairman Levy faces a challenging summer following the Lewis charges and the uncertainty over Harry Kane’s future. Photograph: Paul Marriott/Shutterstock

Spurs have described the scandal engulfing Lewis as a “legal matter unconnected with the club”. They are working hard, essentially, to distance themselves from Lewis. They had not taken issue, for example, with him being referred to in the media after 5 October as their owner. They have now.

At the time of the Companies House update, Spurs indicated that the running of the club would not change. A club spokesperson said: “Tottenham Hotspur Limited has filed changes to its register of persons with significant control (PSCs) following a reorganisation of the Lewis Family Trusts. The new PSCs of the company are the officers of the family’s discretionary trust.”

Spurs have been dogged by takeover rumours for years and it is inevitable that there will be another round of them. But again the situation with Lewis has not changed much in this regard. Interested buyers or investors would still approach Levy or maybe Glinton and Booth; they would not deal with Lewis.

Lewis, who is worth an estimated £5bn, bought a controlling stake in Spurs from Alan Sugar in 2001 and he is synonymous with the club, even if he is rarely seen at matches or heard talking about the team. He is the figure in the background, the guy-behind-the-guy and the lurid details of the case against him are yet another headache for the club at a time when they are fighting to keep their star player, Harry Kane, from the clutches of Bayern Munich – among other issues.

Spurs do not seem to be close to replacing the managing director of football, Fabio Paratici, who resigned in April after losing an appeal in Italy against his 30-month ban from the game while the incoming chief football officer, Scott Munn, has had his 1 July start date pushed back. There has been a hold-up with Munn’s current employer, The City Group.

The new manager, Ange Postecoglou, is also set to lose the club captain, Hugo Lloris, who has said he wants a new challenge. It was easy to feel, as Lewis’s lawyer, David Zornow, issued a statement on Wednesday, that Postecoglou’s crash course in life at Spurs was continuing to give.

“The government has made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment,” Zornow said. “Mr Lewis has come to the US voluntarily to answer these ill-conceived charges, and we will defend him vigorously in court.”

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