Daniel Philip Levy is a British entrepreneur and chairman of Tottenham Hotspur FC with a net worth of £1 billion according to Forbes. He was born in Essex in 1962 into a working-class family and is now one of Britain’s richest businessmen alongside Ed Woodward. Levy studied at Cambridge University and graduated with a first class honours degree in economics and land economy. He was very entrepreneurial at a young age and helped run his family business, Mr Byrite, a chain of clothing stores. Levy setup Rock Joint Ventures, a property investment company with former Tottenham chairman, Paul Kemsley.
Working in retail management and then corporate finance, he rose through the ranks and became the head of the English national investment company, owned by reclusive Bahamas based billionaire Joe Lewis in 1995. Under his stewardship, ENIC developed into a fully listed sports, media & Entertainment Group which was floated on The stock exchange in 1997. They invested in major brands such as software company Autonomy, retailer Warner Bros studio stores and a gambling website UKbetting.com. Around this time, ENIC began acquiring shares in football clubs and bought a stake in Rangers Slavia Prague AEK Athens and FC Basel and also a 29% stake in Tottenham Hotspur.
In 2001, they purchased majority control of Levy’s boyhood club from Alan Sugar, and he became the Tottenham chairman. His early years were characterised by a number of coaching changes, as the club drifted along in mid-table. In 2004, ENIC took Tottenham off the stock exchange and made it a private company, which increased Levy’s control that summer. He appointed Martin Jol as manager. The Dutchman re-established Spurs as contenders for European football and nearly delivered Champions League qualification in 2006, missing out on the final day to North London rivals Arsenal.
In 2007, Levy sacked Jol and replaced him with Spanish coach Juande Ramos. Under his guise, Tottenham defeated Chelsea to win the League Cup in 2008. It was during this period that Levy developed a reputation as the toughest negotiator in English football. Manchester United’s pursuit of Dimitar Berbatov was common knowledge, but the deal stalled until late on transfer deadline day before it was finally completed. Later, Sir Alex Ferguson recalled those tedious discussions and describe dealing with Levy as “more painful than my hip replacement.”
This legend grew in the years following as Levy drove a hard bargain when selling the likes of Luka Modric to Real Madrid. Jim Duggan, author of ‘The Glory of Spurs’, drew parallels between Levy’s approach to recruitment and his previous career. Levy, made a lot of his money in the property boom and I think that he views players like that. Buy them and sell them on after two or three years. Levy sacked Ramos after a poor run in late 2008 and replaced him with Harry Redknapp. In 2010, Spurs qualified for the Champions League and embarked on a run to the quarter finals. Redknapp led the club to a second top four finished two years later, but they would denied a place in the competition when Chelsea usurped them by winning the 2012 final in Munich and he was sacked, replaced by Andres Villas-Boas.
2013 saw Levy secure one of his biggest negotiation victories, receiving a world record fee of £85.5 million for Gareth Bale from Real Madrid. Twelve months later, he made his most important signing, bringing Mauricio Pochettino to the club as manager. Pochettino has since established Tottenham as one of the best teams in the country and that growth has been matched off the field. The club secured a lucrative £25 million per year kit deal with Nike and an improvement on their £16 million per year sponsorship with Hong Kong based company AIA.
Arguably Levy’s biggest imprint on the club will be the soon to be opened new stadium. Built adjacent to the old White Hart Lane, it will hold a capacity of 56,000 and provide Spurs with a huge increase in revenue which could potentially push them into a different stratosphere.
The Tottenham of now is unrecognizable to that of 15 years ago and that is largely thanks to the astute management of Daniel Levy.