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Aston Villa FC scores pounds 20.2m profits victory

ASTON VILLA, the Premier League football club, announced healthy full-year results yesterday, bolstered by the sale of players such as Dwight Yorke, who was bought by rival Manchester United for pounds 12m.

Profits on disposal of players accounted for 80 per cent of the company's pounds 20.2m pre-tax profits, well ahead of the pounds 3.7m recorded a year ago.

At a press briefing yesterday, Villa's chairman Doug Ellis said he was positive about the results. But he acknowledged that his team's failure to qualify for the Uefa championship, coupled with higher salaries for players, would make this year a difficult one. "Winning football matches is the most important part of the Board's business strategy," Mr Ellis said.

Villa, managed by John Gregory, will need to improve its performance on the pitch if it is to maintain its financial strength and fill the 5,000 extra seats that will be added to its ground by the end of next year. The team, which briefly led the Premiership last season, finished in seventh place following a spate of injuries that at one point left nine players out of action.

Meanwhile, in the second division of the football league, Millwall Holdings announced plans yesterday to raise pounds 2.3m through a share offering. The proposed open offer of more than 403 million new ordinary shares will be made on the basis of one share for every three held at a price of 0.625p per share.

The funds will be used to provide working capital for the club, whose losses for the six months ended 31 May 1999 were reduced to pounds 662,000 against pounds 957,000 last year.

Millwall enjoyed what it described as an encouraging 1998-99 season. The team finished 10th in the second division and reached the Auto Windscreens Shield Final at Wembley.