Grand Met takes Venables to court over pub dispute

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The Independent Online
TERRY VENABLES, the chief executive of Tottenham Hotspur, faces a High Court showdown with Grand Metropolitan over control of a pub and rent allegedly unpaid on a London wine bar that is currently closed.

Inntrepreneur Estates Ltd (IEL), the Grand Met offshoot, is seeking to eject Mr Venables' company from the Cock and Magpie, a country pub near Epping, Essex, amid a row over the tenancy agreement between the soccer boss and IEL, which owns the pub. IEL is also seeking up to pounds 45,000 in rent on Macey's wine bar, whose premises it also owns.

Both pub and wine bar were previously run by Transatlantic Inns, a private Venables company that is in the hands of the Official Receiver. It was compulsorily wound up after it failed to pay rates to Westminster City Council.

The Cock and Magpie now appears to be run by RecallCity, another Venables private company whose directors include his father Fred, who runs a pub in Chingford, Essex. IEL is disputing claims by the Venables camp that the pubs group gave its consent to the transfer of the tenancy to RecallCity and is seeking to call 'time' on the pub. ' We have started possession proceedings against Transatlantic and these are to be heard on May 4th,' said a spokesman for IEL this week.

The row over Macey's, which has been closed for some time, marks a renewal of hostilities after the breakdown of an earlier peace arrangement with Mr Venables.

A previous debt had been repaid, and last summer IEL agreed to grant a new 20-year lease on the wine bar to Thurston Barnett Ltd, a private company that has a RecallCity director on its board, at an annual rent of pounds 90,000. According to IEL, the lease was guaranteed by Mr Venables. However, the wine bar has yet to reopen.

In a dispute over how much money has been paid, an IEL spokesman said: 'We have issued a statutory demand for payment of unpaid rent.' IEL claims it has received only one quarterly payment of pounds 22,500 and is currently owed pounds 45,000 for two other quarters. A court hearing is set for June.

(Photograph omitted)