The 'Sport' of making money

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The Independent Online

David Sullivan, the co-owner of Birmingham City Football Club, has netted £5.2m on the back of rising profits at his Daily Sport and Sunday Sport titles.

Accounts just filed for Sport Newspapers show that the three directors - Mr Sullivan and fellow Birmingham City owners Ralph and David Gold - paid themselves £10.4m in dividends for the year ended last August.

Mr Sullivan, whose wholly owned management company, Roldvale, also pocketed £3.9m in fees, has a 50 per cent stake in Sport Newspapers. The Ralph brothers also have a 50 per cent interest and shared the other £5.2m in dividends.

The company bucked the trend at most newspaper groups and posted profits of £2.4m last year, up from £139,000 in 2004, despite falling sales.

ABC-audited sales of the Sunday Sport were 125,000 in May, down from 159,000 the year before. Sales of the Daily Sport, which aren't audited, are down 24 per cent at around 24,000. By taking £10.4m in dividends, the three men pushed Sport Newspapers £7.9m into the red. The accounts said the money was taken from the company's cash reserves.

Mr Sullivan, who made his fortune in pornography, set up the Sunday Sport tabloid in 1986 with David Gold, who with his brother Ralph owns sex-accessory shop Ann Summers.

The company did not return calls about why profits had risen despite the slide in sales.

Fans of Birmingham City will hope that the three will put some of the cash towards spearheading this season's promotion drive back to the Premiership.

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