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Paul Kemsley

Paul Kemsley
Born August 1967 (age 46)
Stanmore, UK
Nationality British
Occupation Football chairman,
property developer

Paul Zeital Kemsley (born August 1967 in Stanmore, Middlesex),[1] is an English businessman. He is best known as a property developer, and to sports fans as a former Vice-Chairman of Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur, and as Chairman of the revived New York Cosmos.


He was educated at Atholl School in Rayners Lane, Harrow. At the age of 15 Kemsley worked on Saturdays at John Paul Menswear, which led him to meeting Mike Ashley, who opened his first Sports World equipment outlet across the road. They would play darts for money on quiet afternoons.[1]

Kemsley left school in 1984, at the age of 17, and began working at Gross Fine as a junior surveyor. Then, from 1985 to 1992, Kemsley worked as an agent at the commercial real-estate firm Ross Jaye. In 1992, he decided to leave and join his old friend Ashley at Sports Direct[1] where he helped to expand the group.

By 1995, Kemsley wanted to start his own business and he established a property and securities company with "the £1,800 he had left in his pocket." This was Rock Joint Ventures Ltd, formed with Joe Lewis of ENIC Group, a British investment company, and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. Rock was an investor and developer of commercial and residential property, but specialized in land trading.[1] It also had a private hedge fund that specialized in acquiring strategic stakes in public companies, the most well-known being their 28% share in Countryside Properties plc in 2004, which they sold to the chairman for a profit of £12 million.[2]

Kemsley was a director of Spurs from 2001, and Vice-Chairman of the club at the time of his departure in 2007. He had helped the club to reach a healthy financial position. Levy announced that Kemsley was resigning in order to focus on his property interests.[3]

By 2007, Rock's property portfolio was valued at £750 million.[1] Lewis parted from the company around that time. It set up a joint venture with HBOS to build a £1bn property portfolio. However, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2007–2010, Rock was placed into administration in June 2009, ending Kemsley's involvement.[4][5] The administrator PwC began selling the major properties of the portfolio, which included the Selhurst Park stadium, in October 2009.[6] HBOS lost hundreds of millions of pounds, and Peter Cummings, the banker who had promoted the joint investments in Kemsley's portfolio, was fined £500,000 by the FSA in 2012.[7]

Kemsley is known as a close friend of Mike Ashley, David Pearl, Sir Philip Green and Sir Alan Sugar.[1][2] It was through his friendship with Sugar that Kemsley played a part in the ENIC/Levy partnership's purchase of a majority share holding in Tottenham Hotspur. Kemsley later appeared as one of Sir Alan's interviewer/advisors on the UK BBC edition of The Apprentice from 2005 to 2008.[5][6]

Kemsley was well known as an aggressive player in the property business.[5] In his most successful property deal he bought 27-35 Poultry, an office block in the City of London, for £40 million in May 2006. He then sold it within five months to a former Russian government minister for £72 million.[5][8] He has developed successful investments in various online betting operators including Party Gaming, Chinese-licensed Betex, and AIM-quoted FUN Technologies.[2]

His personal wealth was estimated at £180 million in the Sunday Times Rich List 2008,[5] and he was noted as actively supporting various charitable causes.[1] However, in September 2008 he placed a series of large bets that doomed US bank Lehman Brothers would recover, and in May 2009 the spread betting company Spreadex took legal action against him, claiming that he was liable to pay a margin call of £2 million.[8]

In 2010 he led a relaunch of the New York Cosmos soccer club, on the advice of his friend and associate Jeffrey Akiki [9] becoming Chairman from August 2010[10] to October 2011. He installed soccer legend and former Cosmos star Pelé as Honorary President,[11] and in January 2011 appointed former Manchester United player Eric Cantona as Director Of Soccer.[12] Kemsley sold his stake in the Cosmos at a profit, and invested in Pele's commercial rights through his agency Legends 10, jointly owned with Terry Byrne who had also worked on the Cosmos revival.[13]

In March 2012 Kemsley secured his own bankruptcy in the High Court in London, wiping out his debts to creditors including Spreadex, HMRC, HBOS and Joe Lewis.[14] However, Barclays Bank continued legal action in the United States over a £5 million loan to him.[15] In March 2013, the United States Bankruptcy Court found against him when Kemsley tried to protect his US assets by invoking his UK bankruptcy. The judge, James Peck, called Kemsley "a bankrupt who doesn't live like one".[16]

Personal life

He is married to Loretta (née Gold) from Portsmouth. The couple have three children and were living in Radlett, Hertfordshire in 2007,[1] before moving to America,[5] returning to London in 2012.[16] Kemsley currently lives in a rented home in the Tribeca area of New York.


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