Spurs finance chief quits as City awaits late annual results

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The Independent Online

The finance director of Tottenham Hotspur, the publicly quoted Premiership soccer club, has resigned.

The announcement yesterday of Paul Viner's departure came as analysts awaited year-end results, which have now been postponed three times.

Tottenham, which is 29.9 per cent-owned by Daniel Levy's now privately owned Enic, has until the end of next week to produce financial results to avoid breaching the listing rules of the UK Listing Authority, so incurring a share suspension. The UKLA is an arm of the Financial Services Authority, the City's main regulatory body.

Mr Viner left "by mutual agreement", the club said in an official announcement to the London Stock Exchange.

Andrew Fearn, the group financial controller, would assume Mr Viner's duties, Tottenham said. Mr Viner used to be the number two to John Sedgwick, Tottenham's previous finance director.

The club, based in north London, last month fired its manager and former English national team coach Glenn Hoddle after it lost four of its first six games of the new season. It is being managed on a caretaker basis by David Pleat.

Mr Viner's departure comes at a sensitive time for the group, which said in the summer that it was trying to raise between £10m and £20m. The cash-raising exercise has not so far been executed.

In November 2002 the group agreed project finance facilities of £65m, but these were attached to capital projects such as stadium expansion or the setting up of a youth academy.

The stadium plan has foundered on a failure to persuade the Government to improve the local transport network. The plans for the academy were knocked back in February by the local authority.

It was not clear last night whether Mr Viner's departure was related to the postponement of the results or the failure to complete the money-raising.

Sources said the money-raising was intended to repair the group's balance sheet, which has been depleted by player write-downs.

Earlier this year the group reported a first-half loss of £8.6m on turnover of £32.8m. The results included a £5.1m write-down on the value of one of its players, Sergei Rebrov.

Shareholders in Tottenham other than Enic include its former chairman Sir Alan Sugar, who has 12 per cent, and a company owned by the brother of Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of easyJet.

Last night Tottenham shares closed unchanged at 28p, valuing the group at just over £28m.