IF ONLY British Sky Broadcasting had delayed its bid for Manchester United by a week. That's how close Alan Sugar was to agreeing an pounds 80m takeover bid for Tottenham Hotspur from a consortium including football investor Enic and Lord Hollick's United News & Media.
Once Rupert Murdoch had pulled out his wallet, however, the Spurs chairman decided that the underperforming London club was worth more and rejected the offer.
Whether Mr Sugar is right remains to be seen. Financial results for last season, released yesterday, give little cause for optimism. Attracting big-name players cost Spurs dearly, as transfer fees and a whopping 46 per cent increase in the wage bill pulled the club to a pounds 1.0m loss.
The arrival of new manager George Graham, with his large salary and requests for signings, means that the figures are likely to get worse before they get better - and then only if performances can be improved.
On the positive side, the rebuilt North Stand at White Hart Lane will boost ticket revenues, while Spurs have scope to expand the ground further. The club is also some way behind its larger rivals in developing revenue streams. Selling financial products makes sense, but whether Asian youths will buy David Ginola shirts remains to be seen.
Tottenham shares slipped 0.5p to 68.5p yesterday. On a multiple of two- and-a-half times revenues Tottenham looks cheap next to Manchester Unit