Tottenham loses £7m but shares escape suspension

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The Independent Online

The beleaguered football clubTottenham Hotspur produced its annual financial results yesterday after having postponed their release three times. It had led to the threat of a share price suspension.

A £17m loss on player trading helped to produce a pre-tax loss of £7.1m compared with a £0.9m profit last year, although the club's turnover improved by £1.5m to £66.5m.

Following repeated delays and the resignation last week of Tottenham's finance director Paul Viner, the company finally produced its results just ahead of today's Stock Exchange deadline.

Although the club's chairman, Daniel Levy, said "progress had been at a slower pace" than the company had planned, the club's losses are relatively insignificant compared with the losses of about £40m expected from Leeds United when it reports today.

The chairman warned that trading for the first three months of the year were lower on a like-for-like basis than last year, affected by a poor start to the Premiership season, although the club has made some progress in recent weeks and is sitting in 12th position in the league.

The club has yet to find a permanent replacement for Glenn Hoddle, who was sacked last month as its manager. Its former manager and current director of football, David Pleat, has taken over on a caretaker basis.

Tottenham's ability to attract a new manager of high quality and, when the transfer window reopens in January, new players, has been affected by its inability to raise funds to improve its debt position.

Mr Levy said that although "it would be prudent management to take some restorative action to the company's available capital base", with net debt up £3.6m to £10.6m, he argued that "new equity issues in our sector would be unlikely to find favour amongst financial institutions".

It is believed the company may seek extra funding from existing shareholders to allow greater flexibility when the player market reopens.

Spurs also announced that Matthew Collecott, previously the finance director at Mr Levy's company Enic, a 29.9 per cent stakeholder in the club, would replace Mr Viner as finance director "with immediate effect".

The results, which arrived some seven weeks later than last year, also showed a reduction in net assets of £6.5m to £31.2m and the company said that, like last year, no dividend had been proposed. But unlike many of its peers, the company reported that the ratio of salary costs to turnover remained in line with last year.

The company's shares closed down 1.5p at 25p.