It’s a Bloody Big Deal

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) and their fearless leader, Tim Leiweke, made major waves in the soccer world on Monday by introducing Englishman Jermain Dafoe and American Michael Bradley as the newest members of Toronto FC.

But as fans and media in Toronto rejoiced over their newfound fortune, there’s been little mention about the side deal that factored into Dafoe’s arrival in T-dot. That side deal is a business partnership reached between Toronto FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC.

The 4-year advertising agreement between the clubs provides Tottenham with promotional and branding opportunities, experiential activities, and advertising, broadcasting, social media and digital right across all of MLSE’s properties and media platforms.

Additionally, the deal includes:

1) MLSE will stock, promote and sell official Spurs merchandise at all its retail outlets and support the THFC Official Canadian Supporter’s Club.

2) MLSE has offered to help Tottenham with its new stadium in London.

Leiweke confirmed with Sid and Tim on the FAN590 that the agreement is strictly a business arrangement and does not include player loans.

So ultimately, MLSE is lending its own expertise and resources to help Tottenham build its brand and improve its facilities. That seems a little odd considering that MLSE just handed the Spurs a cheque for in and around $10 million (U.S.) in the form of a transfer fee.

Maybe there’s something bigger at play here?

The first hint can be read in Richard Peddie’s tell-all book Dream Job. In his book, Peddie reveals various business opportunities that MLSE considered while he was steering the ship. One of those ideas was a Champions League team. And in an ironic twist, a team MLSE was rumored to be kicking the tires on at the time was (you guessed it) the Tottenham Hotspur. Peddie denied interest in the Spurs and cited excessive spending by teams as the reason why he and CFO Ian Clarke changed their tune on the idea. But it would seem that all bets are off with Leiweke now calling the shots.

Either way, I’m not saying that MLSE is going to buy an English footy team tomorrow. It’s pretty clear that Leiweke’s focus right now is on improving the teams that MLSE already own. At the end of the day, winning is good for business and turning around the Leafs, Raps, and TFC seems like the easiest way for Leiweke to boost the company’s market value in the near term.

However, this does let the world know that MLSE is serious about soccer. By forming a working relationship with Tottenham, MLSE is able to keep an ear to the ground overseas and glean insight into what makes the Euro leagues tick. And let’s not forget that owning teams on both sides of the pond is by no means unchartered territory.

So while Monday’s announcement was a ‘Bloody Big Deal’ as dubbed by MLSE and agency Sid Lee, let’s not rule out another big deal in MLSE’s soccer future.

Adam Puddicombe

Adam Puddicombe is a digital marketing professional who, by day, works in the ad agency world, and by night, covers the intersection of Canadian sports, media, and technology. Adam holds a degree in commerce, with a focus in marketing, and previously worked for Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On! and the St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL. Follow him on Twitter @adampuddicombe.