Cantona fells publishers

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THE enigmatic words of Eric Cantona, Manchester United star and kung fu kicker of abusive supporters, have brought no good fortune to a small Manchester publishing house.

Ringpull Press, which brought out the collected sayings of the charismatic Gallic goal-getter in booklet form, under the title La Philosophie de Cantona, has called in the receivers.

Eric's philosophy has caused the company problems since its conception. In February Ringpull had to recall its first print-run of 30,000 copies after Hodder Headline accused it of replicating material found in its own title, Cantona: My Story, and took out an injunction.

Given Cantona's extraordinary leg actions against the Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons, the publisher was confident that a rewritten Philosophie would still sell. But the second edition had to be paid for upfront. This, combined with Cantona's recent disappearance amid rumours that he is headed for Milan, means that the future of the book - and the publishers - looks bleak.

Thus it is that the Master's most famous saying, heard at the end of the recent court case - "When seagulls follow a trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea" - may not find its deserved place between hard covers.

"It would be a very foolhardy publisher who bought this from us now," said managing director Steve Powell, who set up the company 10 years ago. "It's the end of Ringpull as we know it."

The company is being forced to sell its assets, of which there are few. Ringpull has a colourful and eclectic backlist, including such authors as "cyberpunk" virtuoso Jeff Noon and Manchester-based Ed Jones, now serving three years in prison for smuggling drugs in chocolate bars.

Mr Powell is naturally disappointed. "The north of England deserves a publishing house," he said. "The manuscripts just keep coming in - it's a big market."