Venables in talks on debt

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GRAND METROPOLITAN has repossessed a disused Mayfair wine bar owned by Transatlantic Inns, a company controlled by Tottenham Hotspur's chief executive, Terry Venables, and Paul Kirby, a council member of the Football Association.

GrandMet is owed over pounds 50,000 in back rent from a lease on Macey's, which closed down earlier this year. Discussions are under way to settle the outstanding debt.

'We believe we will be paid the money since we are in talks with Mr Venables about taking on a new lease,' a spokesman said.

Transatlantic, a pubs venture whose last published accounts revealed heavy losses, settled another debt last week when it paid money owed for several months to Courage.

At Tottenham, where Mr Venables has invested pounds 3m to take his stake to 22 per cent, a multi-million-pound redevelopment plan received a setback on Thursday when the club failed in its bid for a City Challenge award.

Under the City Challenge scheme, government subsidies are used to underpin private cash in inner-city redevelopment.

'Government money was only a small part, but it will be more difficult to get in private funding. The scheme will have to be looked at again,' Colin Sandy, finance director of Spurs, said.

Meanwhile, Tony Berry is likely to step down from chairman to deputy chairman of the club. Alan Sugar, the Amstrad boss who already heads Tottenham Hotspur plc, is set to double up as chairman of the football club subsidiary.