Birmingham profits will fund transfers for Bruce

The Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce, could be given a transfer kitty this month as injuries and suspensions take their toll.

Matthew Upson, Christophe Dugarry and Jamie Clapham are unavailable as Bruce aims to build on last season's 13th-place finish in City's first Premiership campaign. The club made profits of more than £3.3m in the 12 months up to 31 August and hoped to avoid making any major investment in players until the summer of 2004, but this now looks unlikely.

Bruce is waiting to hear from Blackburn after lodging a £1.5m bid for Martin Taylor, whom he hopes would provide good defensive cover.

City's financial results, released yesterday to the Stock Exchange, showed that turnover rose by more than £20m to £36.5m and the chairman, David Sullivan, is delighted with the progress in what was their first Premiership season.

"Overall, it has been a good year for the club both on and off the pitch and I am delighted with our progress, whilst remaining focused on the importance of building upon this in our second year in the Premier League," Sullivan said.

City spent £19.7m on wages, a significant jump on the £13.2m paid out in the previous 12 months. Yesterday's figures represent a major upturn in financial fortunes for the club, who lost £6.4m before tax in their promotion season.

City's elevation to the top flight of English football has come at a cost, though, with operating expenses rising sharply as Bruce successfully fought to avoid a quick return to the First Division.

Operating expenses rose by almost £8m to £25.7m, the bulk of which goes to fund wages, which make up 54 per cent of the club's turnover.

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