Spurs sweet for Sugar

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Alan Sugar's 51 per cent shareholding in Tottenham Hotspur was worth £13.5m last night after the company announced tripled profits before tax. The stake is worth more than twice as much as nine months ago.

The shares were unchanged yesterday at 166p, their all-time high, after the company passed its interim dividend for the six months to November, blaming the cost of complying with the Taylor Report demands for all-seater stadiums and the £1.5m fine leviedlast year by the Football Association.

But Tottenham's stock market value has soared since mid December when the club succeeded in overturning the rest of what Mr Sugar described as the FA's "draconian and outrageous" punishment for irregular payments. As a result of Spurs' success in the courts, the club was reinstated in the FA Cup and regained the six points that had been docked from the season's total. Its cup run continues with a fifth-round tie at home against Southampton.

Mr Sugar said: "Regrettably the club still needs to employ the services of lawyers and continues to incur legal costs in defending its position."

He welcomed the club's new manager, Gerry Francis, and bade a bland farewell to Ossie Ardiles, his predecessor, and Steve Perryman. "It is with great regret that the partnership did not work out and it was a sad occasion to lose the services of both these gentlemen whose hearts have always been with Tottenham."

Higher match receipts and merchandising turnover made up for lower receipts from selling players, leaving sales at £11.7m (£12.3m) in the half-year. After lower administration costs and salaries, pre-tax profits jumped from £644,000 to £2.3m.

Earnings per share increased from 2.7p to 8.6p, but as last year there was no half-time payout.

Mr Sugar said the club seemed to have overcome problems that began two years ago with the sacking of Terry Venables, now England team manager. "I am satisfied that the systems we have in place, both from a financial point of view and on the pitch, are now very professional and I am confident the result for the full financial year will be pleasing" he said.