Sugar 'serious' about selling

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The Independent Online
CATHERINE RILEY

Alan Sugar, the Spurs chairman, last night said that he was prepared to sell the north London club because he was tired of the abuse he received from Tottenham supporters.

"I'm absolutely serious about selling up," he is reported as saying. "I've worked my nuts off for Tottenham, scheming and fighting. And I don't get a penny for it. If I devoted the same effort, hours and brain power to another business, I'd make a fortune.

"We've spent pounds 10m more on players than we've sold, pounds 15m on stands, and pounds 11m clearing the debt the club owed the bank. If anyone thinks they have got the right money and could do a better job than me, then come forward. Give me back the money I'm owed, purchase my shares, and I'll be off."

Sugar bought control of Spurs for pounds 20m in 1991, when he was brought in to help the then manager, Terry Venables, turn the club around financially. He had previously made a huge success of his electronics company, Amstrad, and became more involved with the day to day running of the club.

He suffered much abuse following the sacking of Venables, who is now the England coach, but was acclaimed by the supporters when he led a successful appeal against the Football Association, following their decision to deduct points from Spurs and throw them out of the FA Cup at the beginning of last season.

He is quoted in the Sun as saying that all he gets from the supporters, whom he calls "ratbags", is abuse. "Real fans stick by their team no matter if they get a few bad results."

Sugar has been criticised for the sale of Nick Barmby to Middlesbrough, and he also came under fire at the weekend from the former Tottenham striker, Jurgen Klinsmann, who said that Sugar lacked ambition and refused to spend more than pounds 1.5m on new signings.

"Sugar only ever talks about money, he never talks about the game," Klinsmann said. "I would say there is a big question mark over whether his heart is in the club and in football. I would not have wanted to leave Spurs if Sugar had shown more ambition."

Sugar, who personally negotiated Tottenham's purchase of Klinsmann, hit back at the former White Hart Lane favourite last night, saying: "Klinsmann says only pounds 1.5m was available for new players - what rubbish. At a board meeting in May it was agreed that pounds 7.5m was there for Gerry [Gerry Francis, the Tottenham manager] to spend, and it's in the minutes. Plus he now has the cash from the sale of Nick Barmby, who we didn't want to lose."

Tottenham have had a poor start to the season, with a draw at Manchester City and two successive home defeats by Aston Villa and Liverpool. They are currently second from bottom of the Premiership table.

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