Football: Harford can take QPR job

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The West Bromwich Albion manager, Ray Harford, is free to take over at Queen's Park Rangers after an "amicable agreement" at the High Court yesterday.

Albion were due to go before a judge in chambers today for an injunction preventing Harford, who resigned late on Wednesday evening, from moving. But after discussions outside court, the two First Division clubs issued a joint statement that they had reached an "amicable agreement", as a result of which Harford was free to join QPR "with immediate effect".

Albion had initially refused to accept this resignation, claiming that they required six months' notice of his intention to leave. Harford and club executives would make no further comment "at this stage".

West Bromwich put their chief scout, Richie Barker, in caretaker charge of team affairs following Harford's resignation. Barker, a former assistant manager at Sheffield Wednesday and manager at Shrewsbury, Stoke and Notts County, was appointed as Albion's chief scout by Harford in September.

Albion's coach, John Trewick, remains the club's No 2 as Albion begin the search to find their third manager of the year. John Barnwell, chief executive of the League Managers' Association, said the case highlighted the need for a code of conduct in the Football League similar to the one already operating in the Premiership.

"When the Premier League was formed in 1992 we sat down with the new chief executive Rick Parry and drew up a set of rules which have worked very well for both parties," he said. "It's very regrettable that the clubs should lock horns legally over this and we feel a code of conduct would eliminate these undignified squabbles. The LMA believe if managers and clubs abided by a code of conduct in the Football League, with the final word resting with an independent tribunal, it would eradicate such disputes.

"For the LMA it just flags up what we have been saying about the need for a code of practice to be included in the Football League rules."

Liverpool's teenage striker Michael Owen has been called into the England Under-21 squad for the first time to try and help salvage their hopes of reaching the European Championship finals. Owen is included for the second leg of the play-off with Greece at Carrow Road on December 17 when England must overcome a two-goal deficit.

England won their qualifying group by seven points but scored only seven goals in eight group matches, with another blank in the play-off first leg in Crete.

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