THE INVESTMENT COLUMN : Beware fame as the spur

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The Independent Online
The slide in Tottenham Hotspur's share price yesterday on news that striker Jurgen Klinsmann may return to his native Germany shows the vulnerability of football club stocks. No sooner had the names Klinsmann and Bayern Munich been mentioned in the same breath than the shares were heading down 8p to 124p before you could say Arsenal.

The departure of the German international could have a significant impact on Spurs' bottom line. A popular player, Klinsmann replica shirts have proved a boon for the Tottenham merchandising division. On the pitch his presence helped the team to the FA Cup semi-final and the verge of Europe. Without him, the prospect of Spurs qualifying for European competitions next season would diminish. Season ticket sales, which rocketed when he joined, might tail off. It is the sort of uncertainty that would drive any investor to distraction.

But shareholders in quoted football clubs must be used to such volatility. When Klinsmann joined Spurs, the share price soared. When the club was allowed back into the FA Cup in December, they jumped again, only to sink back in April when they were knocked out by Everton. Tottenham's shareholders have had a good run of late with a surge from last year's low of 70p.

In March, Spurs announced tripled pre-tax profits of £2.3m, helped by higher match receipts and improved merchandising, but uncertainties such as the Klinsmann factor make forecasts for the current year difficult. As ever, football shares should remain a punt only for die-hard fans who want to form a closer bond with their heroes. Avoid.