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Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 16:27 GMT
Sugar leaves sour taste
Sir Alan Sugar
Sugar: Admitted he was not a football fan
By BBC Sport Online's Simon Austin

Sir Alan Sugar's relationship with Tottenham's fans often seemed to be one of mutual antipathy.

The millionaire arrived at White Hart Lane in 1991 and made it clear that he saw Spurs as a business proposition, not a labour of love.

He took pride in declaring that he wasn't a Spurs fan and didn't even particularly like football.

And in 1998 he did something that turned many fans against him for good - installing George Graham as manager.

Graham had been a star player for arch-rivals Arsenal as well as one of their most successful ever managers.

During Sugar's time in charge Tottenham, they never finished higher than seventh in the league and their only trophy was the Worthington Cup.

Somewhat predictably, it was the hostility of the White Hart Lane faithful that forced the Amstrad boss away from the club.

Poor choices

Bernie Kingsley, editor of Spurs fanzine Cock-a-doodle-do, said he was not particularly sorry to see Sugar go.

"I'm not a rabid anti-Sugar man, but it's hard to deny that things haven't gone how they should since he's been in charge," he said.

"At best we've stood still under his stewardship, while the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal have surged ahead.

"His choice of managers has not been great. Ossie Ardiles was naive and didn't get results, Gerry Francis was good to start with but was kept on too long, Christian Gross was a mistake and George Graham is yet to prove himself."

But Kingsley did acknowledge the good work that Sugar had done off the pitch at Spurs.

"The club was massively in debt when he arrived and now we are one of the richest clubs in Europe," he said. "I think the fans respect rather than like Sugar for that."

Flagship club

International sports entertainment business, the English National Investment Company (ENIC), has agreed to buy Sugar's shares in Spurs to gain a 29.9% holding in the club.

Their managing director Daniel Levy, 38, is a Spurs season-ticket holder.

Kingsley said Spurs' fans would be adopting a 'wait and see' attitude to ENIC.

"It's a bit early to say what we think about the takeover. ENIC have said they won't be throwing money into the club to start with, which is a concern.

"But the the company is making some positive noises, saying how it wants Spurs to become its flagship football club.

"ENIC also wants to expand Spurs' interests. For example, the club is rare in not having signed a deal with a media company yet.

"And Levy comes into the club as a fan - something Sugar never was - so he should be able to identify better with the club and its traditions."

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21 Dec 00 |  Tottenham Hotspur
Sugar quits as Tottenham chairman
21 Dec 00 |  Tottenham Hotspur
Levy hopes to revive Spurs
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