Football: Portsmouth count cost of Venables saga

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The Independent Online
Troubled Portsmouth are on the brink of financial ruin, following yesterday's revelation of losses of more than pounds 2m in the 12 months up to May last year.

Pompey, still bottom of the First Division despite Tuesday's victory over Stockport, lost pounds 2.14m in the last financial year and are running up fresh losses of pounds 175,000 per month.

A statement from the club's directors specifically mentions the former chairman Terry Venables and his recent departure as a factor in Portsmouth's current plight. Venables' successor, Martin Gregory, is hoping to push through a share issue to generate badly needed cash, to the tune of pounds 5.5m - almost enough to pay off the pounds 5.6m currently owed to creditors.

Cash from the sale of Lee Bradbury to Manchester City for pounds 3.5m and Deon Burton to Derby County for pounds 1.5m have not been included in the current accounts. But projected losses of around pounds 1m for players' signing-on fees are also not included - and accounts reveal the club's wage bill rose by pounds 900,000 in the last financial year.

The directors' statement indicated that the dispute with Venables has hampered their recovery. "It is no secret that the dispute with Mr Venables severely affected our financial stability," it read. "Fortunately it has now been settled, and we can plan for the future. We believe that we will now all be pulling in the same direction, with the well-being of Portsmouth Football Club as our only concern."

Venables left Pompey last month after an 11-month reign as chairman, and accounts confirm he was paid pounds 325,000 for his services to the club.

Plans for a new pounds 75m stadium for Swansea City were unveiled by the Third Division club's parent company, the Silver Shield Group, yesterday.

The company said the 25,000 all-seat stadium project would create 750 new jobs and include leisure facilities such as a multiplex cinema. Silver Shield bought an 80 per cent stake in Swansea last August. Its chairman, Neil McClure, added that his company is also in talks with Rugby League authorities for a Super League franchise to start in March 1999.

The Nottingham Forest manager, Dave Bassett, is prepared to let Mark Crossley go out on loan. The Welsh international has played two reserve games since returning to action after a seven-month lay-off with back trouble, but has been unable to reclaim his place in goal from Dave Beasant.

The former Wales international, Robbie James, collapsed and died last night while playing for Llanelli, the club he managed.

James, 40, who represented Swansea, Stoke, Leicester, Queen's Park Rangers and Cardiff and won 47 caps for his country, was rushed to Prince Phillip Hospital in Llanelli but was found to be dead on arrival. He made a total of 782 League appearances - only Peter Shilton, Tommy Hutchison and Terry Paine have made more.

Half an hour of the Welsh League match between Llanelli and Porthcawl at Stebonheath Park had elapsed when James slumped to the ground. The match was abandoned. "This is absolutely devastating news. We cannot believe it. Robbie seemed so fit and perfectly well," said Llanelli's secretary, Roger Davies.

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