Football: Venables lodges pounds 1m claim over dismissal

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The Independent Online
TERRY VENABLES renewed his offensive against Alan Sugar, the Tottenham chairman, last night when he lodged a pounds 1m-plus claim for wrongful dismissal over the loss of his job as the Spurs chief executive.

He was warned immediately by Sugar that if the action goes ahead it will be 'defended strenuously', but Venables said he was 'very confident of success'. The former White Hart Lane manager was sacked two months ago and failed to gain reinstatement in the High Court when Sir David Nicholls ruled the club had the right to hire and fire. He had three years of his pounds 250,000-a-year contract to run. Venables said his dismissal has never been explained.

'I have been intending to sue for wrongful dismissal for some time, and the time now seems right. I feel very confident of success. To this day I cannot understand why I was fired. I think my dismissal must be unique in many ways. I have three years left on my contract, yet no reason has ever been given as to why Alan Sugar terminated that contract prematurely without the slightest warning,' Venables said.

This new court action comes only three days before their next scheduled confrontation. Venables, who owns 23 per cent of shares in Tottenham, is already attempting to force Sugar to sell his 47.9 per cent holding on the grounds that the Amstrad chief has not acted in the club's best interests.

That hearing is set for mid-October but first Sugar is this week seeking a 'security for costs' order that could mean Venables having to pay as much as pounds 500,000 into court now.

Venables made a vigorous defence of his position on last night's Sport in Question show on Carlton TV, sharing a heated debate with panellist Jimmy Greaves over the people Venables had around him at the club. Later Venables said: 'I am fighting for my life and what more motivation do you need than that? I will give it everything I have got and if I don't succeed it will not be for want of trying.'

Wimbledon's value to the media as one of the most controversial and colourful football stories was underlined yesterday when LBC, the London news radio station, announced a pounds 250,000 sponsorship deal with the Premier League club.

With John Fashanu also declaring his intention to stay with the Dons it was a day of two favourable headlines for the club who, alone in the top flight, were without a shirt sponsor last season.

Second Division Barnet can at last prepare for the new season, having informed the League they are ready to fulfil commitments after their dwindling resources received a sizeable boost from supporters and sponsors. Cash is now available to pay outstanding wages and bonuses to players, including the 11 given free transfers.

Barnet's six remaining contracted players, including the caretaker manager Gary Phillips, were scheduled to ask the League to release them at a hearing on Friday, but Phillips said yesterday he will withdraw that request and hopes the other five will do likewise.