By Dr Billy McGraw
In a wholly unexpected development it seems that Joe Lewis has been in touch with Stan Kronke to discuss what a source has called “areas of mutual interest in England”.
Joe Lewis, who is 80 and said to be worth £4.5bn is a British citizen who lives in the Bahamas and is the power behind Tottenham Hotspur. Stan Kronke is an American citizen, who is ten years younger and worth maybe twice as much, and is the majority owner of Arsenal.
So what brings these two together?
Joe Lewis began making his money selling selling luxury goods to American tourists, before moving into currency trading including having an involvement in Black Wednesday when the UK was removed from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. His involvement in Tottenham may well relate back to his own humble origins in London’s east end.
Stan Kronke is the owner of a range of sports clubs such as the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League and the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL.
On the face of the men have little in common from their histories: Kronke is of a Lutheran background, and has three degrees from the University of Missouri. Lewis left school early, had no further or higher education and is of a Jewish background.
But there are connections. The Kroenke Group has developed numerous shopping centres and apartment buildings, particularly around Wal-Mart stores. He is also chair of the interestingly name THF Realty (note the initials) an independent real estate development company that specializes in suburban development. In 2016, THF’s portfolio was valued at more than $2 billion, including more than 100 projects totalling 20 million square feet, primarily in retail shopping centres.
Furthermore Kronke has a lot of experience in moving clubs around. For example in January 2016 after a complex and convoluted set of deals and legal arrangements it was agreed by the NFL that the Rams should be allowed to relocate from St. Louis back to Los Angeles.
The situation at Tottenham, where there has been suggestion that the club is facing some difficulties over the fact that its stadium redevelopment cost has risen from under £400m to over £800m, and issues concerning getting suitable bank loans.
This has raised questions about their own relocation from White Hart Lane to Wembley and back again. for there are also questions about whether the work at the old White Hart Lane stadium will be done in time to make the move to Wembley viable as a one year project. Premier League rules do not allow clubs to have two “home” stadia during one season. There is also pressure from Chelsea, who also want to use Wembley for perhaps three years while their stadium is rebuilt.
The story that is emerging is that 80 year old Joe Lewis has spoken with Stan Kronke about issues relating to both the financing of stadia and the moving of clubs with a view to resolving the issues at Tottenham once and for all. As part of this it is suggested that Joe Lewis is concerned about leaving a difficult financial situation at Tottenham to his heir, Vivienne Lewis Silverton.
Vivienne Silverton is on Tavistock’s board of directors and is divorced, while Joe Lewis’ son lives in Argentina. Tavistock is a group that itself owns over 200 companies.
While it seems that everyone in the Lewis and Kronke camps is clear that there can be no joint ownership of Premier League clubs, it does seem that an era of co-operation is being examined with the possibility of Kronke’s NFL experience being used to bring American football to White Hart Lane with a view to further mutual explorations in other parts of London.
The ultimate aim of a London Group of football and other sports clubs cannot be ruled out – at least for today, although as Mr Kronke said in a recent interview, “context is everything”.
Ongoing: The series on Arsenal in the 1930s is complete and the first six articles in the series have now been completely revised and updated including new pictures from the first Racing Club v Arsenal match.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.
Both books are also available as paperbacks. Please see here.