Bottom Line: Wembley directors need to score

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The Independent Online
WEMBLEY, the owner of the north London sports, pop and conference facilities, charges pounds 1 for a cup of tea outside the main playing field. These prices are not enough, however, to ensure the group's future.

Figures out yesterday were awful, even if you ignore the pounds 21.3m in extraordinary charges relating to accounting reconciliation of goodwill written off on companies bought several years ago. It is harder to forget the pounds 13.4m of exceptional items. Of these, pounds 5m are bank charges covering the rescheduling of Wembley's pounds 140m of debt. While not on a scale with Brent Walker's restructuring charges of pounds 40m, this bill is hard on Wembley's suffering shareholders. Another pounds 2m of the exceptional charge is reorganisation and redundancy costs and a third charge, of pounds 5m, is an upfront hit on five years' projected rent shortfall at an office.

Disregarding the one-offs, Wembley made a meagre pounds 1.4m of taxable profit after interest charges. Trading profits were pounds 15.8m, up from pounds 15m.

The shares fell 1p to 15p. A year ago they were 50p after peaking in 1987 at 148p. A consortium including former Wembley directors is considering a takeover bid, or possibly a boardroom coup. Shareholders should hope they are successful.

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