Four days after confirming that they are pounds 9m in the red, Coventry City have given their manager Ron Atkinson pounds 5m to alleviate their position at the bottom of the Premiership. Half the money may go straight to Crystal Palace, who have accepted an offer of pounds 2.5m for their Welsh international defender, Chris Coleman.
Coleman was yesterday discussing terms with Atkinson, who said: "Chris has asked for the weekend to think it over. Out of the blue the chairman said that he wanted to bring someone of real quality into the club and when he said the money was available I was amazed. On second thoughts I should not have been. He is the most supportive chairman I have ever worked for. He wants success for all the right reasons, not for his personal reasons."
If the deal goes through the 25-year-old will be Atkinson's third Palace signing in five months, joining Richard Shaw and John Salako at Highfield Road. It would also set a Coventry transfer record, beating the pounds 2m spent on Dion Dublin. Coleman, who can play as a centre-half or left-back will not be available for today's visit by Blackburn Rovers but Chris Whyte, recruited from Birmingham City on a month's loan yesterday, is likely to play.
Bryan Richardson, the City chairman, said: "Where this club has gone wrong in the past is by buying players by the dozen for pounds 250,000 in the hope that a few will make it. We're still left with a lot of them and they're still not good enough. That's why we'll be buying quality not quantity from now on."
Swansea, who sold Coleman to Palace for pounds 275,000 in 1991, will receive a quarter of the fee. Coleman is the 12th member of the Palace side relegated last season to leave Selhurst Park, for combined fees of more than pounds 13m.
Atkinson is also thought to have made a bid in excess of pounds 2m for a Premiership midfielder which may go through in the next few days, with Robbie Earle (Wimbledon), Alan Thompson (Bol-ton), Gavin Peacock (Chelsea) and Craig Hignett (Middlesbrough) the most likely candidates.
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