It might be time for Tottenham fans to look at the big picture. Sure, Spurs are dead last in the EPL, and today’s 2-1 defeat at Stoke was especially exasperating given the visitors’ lack of poise (Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson both being sent off. But regardless of how desperate things might seem for the North London club, there’s some slim consolation : no one has fabricated rumors of a Spurs sale solely for the purpose of making the potential buyer look bad. The Observer’s Jamie Doward elaborates on a rather unique, modern method of conducting a business battle.
According to documents exhibited in the High Court, an obscure London-based PR firm called Mirepco was employed to mount a smear campaign against Michael Cherney, who is suing Russian’s richest man Oleg Deripaska (above, right for a share in one of his businesses worth some $4bn (£2.3bn).
In a letter to Sam Berkovits – a legal consultant to Deripaska’s Basic Element conglomerate, the interests of which span timber, mining and metals – Mirepco outlined its plan for a PR campaign that would raise ‘an awareness of the undesirability of granting MC [Michael Cherney] either residential status in the UK, or indeed the right to enter the country’.
The plan allegedly involved leaking false information that Cherney, who has an interest in the Bulgarian club Levski Sofia, wanted to buy Leeds. ‘This would lead to a public discussion being started as to his suitability for such an acquisition, and enable negative comments to be placed in the public domain,’ the Mirepco letter states.
It adds: ‘Once such issues are being publically [sic] discussed and his profile raised, we would arrange for UK experts and commentators to denigrate MC as being unsuitable for controlling an English league club.’
The plan, for which Mirepco charged £10,000 per month, was to leak the information in August last year, ‘given the slow pace of news’. ‘The national tabloid newspapers would then be contacted, as they can in certain cases be “persuaded” to publish less than flattering information, particularly about foreign nationals with unsavoury backgrounds,’ the letter states.
The PR firm suggested that the local MP, Colin Burgon, a keen Leeds United fan, ‘would most certainly not be supportive of a possible takeover by MC’.