Football: Resolute Venables vows to carry on the fight

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The Independent Online
THE skirmishing between Terry Venables, Tottenham Hotspur's chief executive, and the club chairman, Alan Sugar, continued yesterday, providing the drama and controversy singularly absent from the FA Cup Final.

Venables spoke frankly on BBC TV's Grandstand before the final while Sugar issued a written riposte and later also presented himself to the cameras.

Venables' sacking by Sugar on Friday morning was 'something none of us need or expected', the chief executive said, 'particularly when (the club) was going so well'. They had turned a pounds 2.8m debt into a pounds 5m profit this year and made much progress on the field. 'In my opinion, I have succeeded greatly, beyond my expectations for the team and what's coming through now and what I feel for next year. The team is well placed . . . We must be doing something right.'

Spurs' chief executive was reinstated by a High Court injunction on Friday evening until a further hearing on 25 May. Sugar would then have to produce evidence of Venables' failings. But there was none, Venables said. 'I have asked what are the grounds, and he said there's no grounds except that only one person should run the club, so we'll have to find out who that's going to be.' He made it clear he would not go without a struggle. 'Anything worth having is worth fighting for, and if I have to go I will have to accept that and hope that I can do that with dignity. But I don't think it's right or fair that this is happening in the way it's happening.'

Sugar had made a 'derisory' offer for Venables' 22-per-cent shareholding. He said he expected to get his investment back 'through the performance of the team', which would in turn help the company to perform even better. He did not rule out a buyout of the Amstrad founder. 'I have backing in certain quarters, even though there is no money from myself. At the moment, Sugar does not want to sell his shares.'

There is now little love lost between them. 'We didn't actually have to get on. I would run the company and keep him in touch with what was going on and he would run the board meetings and make his presence felt there. But really it wasn't us going out dancing together. It was a working relationship.

'The club is for the people. I have always believed that,' Venables continued. 'The club is not the building or the grass. It's the supporters and the players. You are dealing with people. It's me that does that every day. It's not something that Alan does. He deals with a different business and he goes back to that every Monday morning. My life is on the line here. I've invested everything and more in Tottenham.' He has put in pounds 750,000 of his own money plus pounds 2m of loans.

Meanwhile, Sugar said his buyout offer to Venables, made in writing on 6 May, was 'fair, even generous and demonstrates how much I wanted Terry Venables to avoid any financial difficulties'.

He stated that he offered the exact sum Venables paid for his shares - which would have meant he could pay off loans - plus 'a substantial amount' in settlement of contracts. 'I, my family and a lot of people have the best interests of the club at heart. It is not some kind of vendetta or ego- trip.' Referring to his relationship with Venables, he said: 'We were business partners. And, yes, it was a dream made in heaven - two East End boys, one an expert on football matters and the other, maybe not an expert, but certainly quite used to financial and commercial matters and marketing, and that was it,' the founder of Amstrad said. 'Unfortunately, that dream has seemed to turn out a nightmare.'