Football: Spurs plan for extra seating

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The Independent Online
By Peter Thal Larsen

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR have asked for permission to add another 12,000 seats to their White Hart Lane stadium, taking the total capacity to a possible 48,000. However, the expansion will only go ahead if the team's performances improve under their new manager, George Graham.

The Premier League club have drawn up plans to add another tier to both the East and West stands at a total cost of pounds 20m. The club have submitted their planning application to Haringey Council and expect an answer in a few months.

However, Tottenham stressed they have no immediate plans to build the extra seats. "Unlike other clubs, we can expand if we want to," said John Sedgwick, Tottenham's finance director. "If we get planning permission it will be valid for five years. But we will only do it if the demand is there."

Tottenham have just finished rebuilding the new 10,000-seat North Stand, which includes 15 executive boxes and a restaurant, taking the capacity to 36,500. Despite performing poorly last season, when they narrowly escaped relegation, several home matches this season have sold out.

The news emerged as Tottenham Hotspur plc, the holding company for the club, slipped to a pounds 1m pre-tax loss for the year to the end of July, down from a profit of pounds 7.6m in the previous season. The loss was the result of net spending of pounds 7.1m on players, including David Ginola and Les Ferdinand from Newcastle, and a huge rise in the player wage bill, which soared by 46 per cent.

Meanwhile Alan Sugar, Tottenham's chairman, blamed "continued negative media reporting" for the departure of Christian Gross, sacked as head coach in September. "The situation became irreconcilable and the Board had no alternative but to dismiss Gross," he said.

Nigel Wray, Nottingham Forest's plc chairman, yesterday revealed that the Premiership strugglers are prepared to meet Pierre Van Hooijdonk in a quest to bring his three-month strike to an end. But Wray is insistent that the Dutchman must make the first move to pave the way for his return to the City Ground.

Van Hooijdonk, who went on strike at the start of the season, blaming Forest's lack of ambition, has suggested he would consider a return if Irving Scholar, Forest's football consultant, contacted him first.

Wray said: "Pierre has to do something. He just has to say something conciliatory. It hasn't got to be on bended knee, begging forgiveness. We don't want to rub his face in it or ask him to eat humble pie - that would be a silly position to put him in. If he admits he has made mistakes, and says he wants to talk, we're more than willing to meet halfway. But what we're not going to do is rush over to Holland, cap in hand, and ask him to come back. That would be sacrificing the club's integrity and we're not prepared to do that."

Liverpool have been forced to pull out of Peter Beardsley's testimonial game at Newcastle on 6 January because of fixture congestion. The Anfield club are due to play Arsenal in the Premiership three days later.

Manchester City are ready to sacrifice their record buy Lee Bradbury to fund a spending spree. Bradbury could be heading for Crystal Palace over the weekend in a pounds 1.5m deal. Terry Venables, the Palace manager, wants his former Portsmouth striker, sold to City for pounds 3.5m, to replace Matthias Svensson, who has broken a foot and will be out for over a month.

Michael Appleton, the chief executive of Hull City and the rugby league side, Hull Sharks, resigned yesterday admitting that both clubs were "on the verge of being sold." Gameplan International have been linked with a takeover of the clubs following owner David Lloyd's decision to withdraw his funding.

Tottenham losses,

Business, page 25

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