Football: Ardiles under a cloud

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The Independent Online
ALAN SUGAR introduced a sour note into Tottenham's celebrations of Premiership survival by stating that his recent backing of Ossie Ardiles as manager was purely to ensure there were no distractions during the vital stages of the club's scrap to stay out of the bottom three, writes Mark Burton.

'In the last three weeks or so there's been an amnesty between the board and Ossie and Steve (Perryman, assistant manager), while all our concentration and energy was on survival. That's over, and now the talking will start,' Sugar said after Spurs had secured their elite status by beating Oldham 2-0 at Boundary Park on Thursday night.

Ardiles may not have the chance to fulfil his promise never to allow such a situation to develop again. Sugar said that the club had some financial decisions to make, and a source close to the chairman suggested as many as 10 players could be discarded during the summer.

Togetherness of another sort will be on display for the first time at the Hawthorns on 9 May when the former England captain, Bryan Robson, plays alongside his brother Justin for West Bromwich Albion in a testimonial match for their brother, Gary. They have never played in the same side before.

Crystal Palace have turned down pounds 4m to pass over promotion to the Premiership. Palace were offered the money by a South African company which intends to run a separate league to rival the Premiership. Ron Noades, the Palace chairman, said: 'The proposal envisaged a situation similar to American gridiron leagues where two divisions are now on an equal footing.'

Ruud Gullit returns to the Dutch squad for the World Cup finals in the United States next month.