Pembroke: Expansion no joke for Comedy Store Don

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Don Ward, the man behind the Comedy Store, London's top-rated comedy club, is in danger of making some serious money. He is in the process of moving the club a few hundred yards across Leicester Square to a larger venue opposite Planet Hollywood in Coventry Street.

Mr Ward, a dapper little fellow who founded the original Comedy Store in Dean Street, Soho, on a budget of pounds 1,000 in 1979, has raised more than pounds 500,000 to fund the move.

The club, which has helped comics such as Rik Mayall, French and Saunders and Ben Elton make their names, will now have a capacity of 400 rather than 215, though the price of a ticket will remain pounds 8.

'I've had to expand for it to become reasonably profitable,' the former stand-up comic says. 'It was expand or die. I was due a rent review at Leicester Square and it was already pounds 66,000 a year.'

His new premises are under a branch of TGI Fridays, a dreadfully over-themed chain of restaurants, whose owner, Whitbread, will be the landlord. 'They will send people down to me after they've eaten and I shall recommend people to eat up there,' he says optimistically.

The new venue will open on 13 December with a charity event in aid of the the club's fund for sick children in Romania. Jo Brand, Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard are among the cast that will provide the laughs.

'I love it,' the twinkle-eyed comic turned entrepreneur says. 'I didn't mind spending some money to get the right thing.'

England's football team may have dumped themselves out of the World Cup with a series of displays usually associated with pub teams on a Sunday morning, but Waddingtons, makers of the Subbuteo football game, will still be sending an England side to the United States next June.

Subbuteo has been organising tournaments running parallel with the World Cup since 1970. Staged in the same host country - the 1994 event will take place in Chicago - they attract up to 30 entries.

It will come as no surprise to miserable followers of Graham Taylor's failures that England's record with one-inch high plastic models is as bad as in the real thing. England have reached the final twice but were beaten both times, by the Netherlands in 1974 and Germany in 1978. Proof that it is only a game lies in the fact that even Scotland once reached the final, in 1986, only to be beaten by Belgium.

San Marino have yet to enter.

Here is proof that even astute City entrepreneurs sometimes get it wrong.

Bob Morton, the greyhound racing nut who holds substantial stakes in Vistec, the computer software group, and the financial and marketing group MMI, has admitted he has taken a bath in the Lloyd's debacle. Over lunch the other day he conceded that he had lost up to pounds 1m in the Nightmare on Lime Street. 'I was very naive,' a chastened Mr Morton spluttered over his lamb chop.

Bill Rooney, the former Spring Ram chairman who was ousted from the troubled kitchens and bathrooms company in the summer, has been chilling out with a big new venture in Barbados. Mr Rooney, who never does things by halves, is understood to have made a bunker-sized investment in a pounds 10m golf development there.

It was from a holiday in Barbados, you might recall, that the then embattled Mr Rooney hurried back in July to face his critics.

Now he is presumably spending a bit more time in Alan Bay House, the palatial Barbados mansion he bought from Peter Moores, the former Littlewoods chairman, in 1989. No doubt his golf has improved quite a bit in the last few months.

The case of the errant BZW Futures traders has finally been resolved - clearing up one little rumour in the market.

On Friday, Liffe fined BZW pounds 67,500 and fined and disciplined the four traders for recording trades to their clients' disadvantage last spring. But Daniel Hodson, Liffe's chief executive, scotched the rumour that the traders had been making trading signals with their feet rather than their hands to perpetrate a scam. 'It's a jolly good story and a load of old cobblers,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)

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