Player sales prove a winner for Spurs

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Tottenham Hotspur yesterday reported half-year profits of pounds 7.14m due largely to the early season pounds 5.5m sale of Nick Barmby to Middlesbrough. The sale was seen as controversial at the time, given that it came on top of the departure of Jurgen Klinsmann who left after a one-year stay to play in Germany.

Excluding player trading, the core business of the company produced a half-year profit of pounds 2.33m against pounds 590,000 last year.

The growth excluding player transfers was due mainly to increased revenues from new sponsorship deals with Hewlett Packard and Pony, higher television fees, higher gate receipts, and increased profits from merchandising.

Alan Sugar, chairman, said the record interim results were pleasing and continued to reflect the true potential of Tottenham Hostpur.

The company's share price certainly reflects the renewed optimism surrounding the football club as an investment. In September the shares were 167p on the announcement of the annual results. Yesterday they touched 254p, a high for the year and a 5p increase on the day.

John Sedgwick, finance director, conceded that a rights issue might be a financing option if the club decided to develop its North Stand at White Hart Lane to increase capacity by 3,500-4,000. The cost is likely to be around pounds 6m but there has no been no decision yet on whether the project should go ahead.

He said a decision to go ahead would probably be taken only if the ground's current capacity (around 33,000) continued to be tested on a regular basis. Attendances were now very strong, after a slow start to the season, he said.

A dividend of 1.5p per share is being paid to shareholders, which should be worth around pounds 120,000 to Mr Sugar, who owns nearly half the shares. Recently the club announced its intention to instigate a progressive dividend policy in the hope of attracting more institutional shareholders to buy and hold the stock.

Investment Column, page 22