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Tuesday, January 13, 1998 Published at 01:28 GMT


Venables quits Portsmouth taking a tidy profit
image: [ When Venables arrived at Portsmouth he was feted by the club's fans ]
When Venables arrived at Portsmouth he was feted by the club's fans

Former England manager Terry Venables has finally agreed to stand down as chairman of Portsmouth and appears to have made a big profit on the £1 he invested in the club.

Venables is thought to have been paid around £250,000 for the 51% controlling interest he bought for £1 in February 1997.

The former England, Tottenham and Barcelona coach was sold the shares by Pompey director Martin Gregory, son of the club's former chairman and Venables's close friend Jim Gregory.

Astonishing financial return

It represents an astonishing financial return after less than a year at the club, who are currently bottom of the First Division, and brings to a close another chapter in his colourful career.

Venables had failed to attract the investment he originally hoped for when he arrived at Fratton Park after guiding England to the Euro 96 semi-finals.

Last week he resigned as chairman of Portsmouth but a bitter wrangle ensued over his 51% shareholding.

Club losing £150,000 a month

Martin Gregory, the former chairman, will now take control of Portsmouth with a 96% shareholding in the club, which is losing £150,000 per month.

But it is thought he may eventually sell a controlling interest to a consortium led by Portsmouth-born musician and millionaire Brian Howe.

Venables, who reportedly wanted £500,000 to walk away from the club, agreed to the pay-out after a meeting with another Pompey director, Brian Henson, on Monday.

[ image: Venables has often combined football and business with mixed results]
Venables has often combined football and business with mixed results
His position at Fratton Park first came under threat after the club failed to pay their players' wages for November, a crisis which was resolved only after the Professional Footballers' Association stepped in.

'The time is right'

Mr Gregory, who is in Switzerland on business, said: "The time is right for Venables to go. He should walk away.

"I realise I am not the most popular person in Portsmouth but things were never this bad."

Gregory had insisted the shares had never been registered in Venables' name - a claim hotly denied by the man who led England to the semi finals of Euro 96.

'Performance-related' bonus

His company, Vencorp, was given a £300,000 'performance-related' bonus last summer, shortly after the club's two top stars, Lee Bradbury and Deon Burton, were sold to Manchester City and Derby County for a total of £5m.

Venables said the bonus had no connection to the transfers and said the timing of the payment was a coincidence.

He claimed he fell out with the board because they were angry about the lack of time he spent at the club but he pointed out he had a contract as Australia's soccer coach which he had to uphold.

His bid to take Australia to the 1998 World Cup failed at the last hurdle when they fell to Iran in a play-off last year.

Australia contract set to expire

Venables's contract with Australia finishes this summer and he has already been linked to managerial posts with Nigeria and Northern Ireland.

Portsmouth are expected to release a full statement about the Venables affair on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Venables is due in the High Court this week to face proceedings brought by the Department of Trade and Industry.

They are seeking to ban him from any boardroom for up to seven years.

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Terry Venables biography

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