Sports management firm First Artist Corporation yesterday bounced back into the black after a major expansion away from its core business as a football agent.
The Wembley-based company, whose clients include Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, Birmingham striker Mikael Forssell and Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray, a former Aston Villa and Wolves player, posted pretax profits of £809,000 for the 12 months to October 31 compared with losses of £493,000 a year earlier.
It came after First Artist reduced its dependence on football with the acquisitions of money management business ABG Financial Management, events management firm The Finishing Touch and rival agent Team Sports Management.
The new businesses helped send turnover up 47 per cent to £5.9 million.
Finance director Richard Hughes said the company was forced to move away from football following the collapse of ITV Digital in 2002 which left many clubs short of cash for transfers.
The introduction of transfer windows also hit the business with clubs only allowed to buy players during three months of the summer and in January.
Mr Hughes said: "Football has been the core business for a considerable period of time but it is a very volatile industry. Football across Europe was hit by issues such as television money and the introduction of a trading window. The net effect of all that was that the clubs were squeezed and the transfer market was squeezed. That is why we put a strategy in place to grow the business to make it more broad-based."
Despite the move away from football, First Artist's core business as an agent enjoyed its best year "for several years" with operating profits trebling to £1.3 million.
But Mr Hughes warned the transfer window - which closes at midnight tonight - had been slow.
"Transfer windows make it a very difficult environment to operate in because we only make money for four months of the year," he said.
"This has not been the most active of transfer windows and has not been particularly lucrative."
One deal which First Artist was involved in this month was the sale of 35-year-old Charlton goalkeeper Dean Kiely to Redknapp's Portsmouth for an undisclosed fee.
First Artist represents more than 200 footballers around the world and has offices in Italy, Switzerland, North America and Singapore.
ABG Financial Management was bought by First Artist in July and made operating profits of £214,000 looking after money for many of the company's footballers, while The Finishing Touch made operating profits of £76,000. Events organised included the World Sports Awards and the Andy Gray Book Launch Dinner.