Football: Sugar to take on extra role

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The Independent Online
ALAN SUGAR, the Tottenham Hotspur chairman, yesterday vowed he would take a more "hands-on" role in the day-to-day running of the club.

Sugar's increased involvement was revealed at yesterday's annual meeting for shareholders after the news that the chief executive, Claude Littner, is stepping down to a non-executive role.

Sugar said: "Claude Littner was appointed chief executive five years ago at a time when the company needed his business acumen and management skills to develop the financial and commercial framework of the company. Having met all his objectives, Mr Littner will now seek a new executive challenge outside the Group but will maintain an involvement as a non- executive director of the plc and football club. As a consequence, I will take a more active `hands on' interest in the day-to-day management of the business."

Tottenham also defended their decision not to take up the full allocation of tickets for visiting fans at their forthcoming match at Chelsea.

The club were criticised this week by supporters because they had taken only half the allocation available for the fixture on 19 December - and instead are to charge fans to watch the game on giant screens at White Hart Lane.

A spokesman for Spurs said: "When you are playing away you are entitled to 10 per cent of tickets. You get five per cent on sale or return but the other five per cent you must pay for up front. However, last year we sold only 1,600 tickets for this match, so we did not want to get stuck with tickets we had to pay for."

The ticket issue was raised at the meeting and is also set to be highlighted by the consumer television programme, Watchdog.

The new Spurs manager, George Graham, once the man in charge at their arch-rivals Arsenal, was given a seal of approval by the 400 supporters who attended.

"George received a very warm welcome, which was good to see, and it shows the fans have really taken to him," said the spokesman.

Graham reiterated his intention to build a new Spurs "dynasty" around the club's England pair of Sol Campbell and Darren Anderton. He also denied making a bid for the West Ham midfielder Frank Lampard, although he admitted making several inquiries for players without success.

Sugar's renewed enthusiasm for Spurs is something of a `U-turn'. Just three months ago the computer tycoon admitted he had had enough of football and was ready to sell his 40 per cent controlling interest. But, since appointing Graham as manager, his appetite for the football business has returned and he has been buying more shares in the club.

In Geneva yesterday, the Football Association failed in its attempt to overturn a fine imposed over alleged racist chants from fans at England's European Championship qualifier in Sweden in September.

A statement from Uefa, European football's ruling body, said: "The appeal was rejected following evidence presented by the referee, Pierluigi Collina, and the Uefa delegate at the match, Matthieu Sprengers, stressing that on at least eight occasions during the game English fans had directed racist chants at the Swedish player, Henrik Larsson."

The appeals panel, chaired by Leon Strassle, also decided to uphold another decision by Uefa's control and disciplinary body to ban the Polish club, Wisla Krakow, from European tournaments for one year.

The panel considered the club responsible not only for the act of the spectator who threw a knife at the Parma midfielder, Dino Baggio, during a Uefa Cup tie, but also for the actions of the Krakow player, Ryszard Czerwiec, who threw the knife back into the crowd to try and conceal the evidence.

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