Football: Beardsley enters as Clark faces exit

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The Independent Online
FRANK CLARK faces the sack as Manchester City's manager in the next 24 hours, with Joe Royle lined up to replace him. Clark's tenure at Maine Road may be over tomorrow whether he wins, loses or draws against Ipswich tonight. It may even come to a head before, if a settlement figure can be reached.

The City chairman, Francis Lee, is under pressure to act as he fights for his own position, with sacking Clark his only solution. Clark will not resign to help him out of the crisis.

Royle, out of work for almost a year, will be approached and asked to take charge for the rest of the season. He is likely to want the services of Willie Donachie, his former Everton assistant who is currently coach at Sheffield United.

Clark signed Peter Beardsley yesterday, and launched a broadside at the board. Clark was angry that he had not been told about a club statement issued overnight which was effectively an ultimatum.

"I didn't know it was being made and I haven't seen it or read it," Clark said. "It would have been nice if someone had mentioned it to me."

Beardsley, out in the cold for weeks at Bolton after joining the club in August for pounds 500,000, has moved on a month's loan and will make his debut tonight.

Wolves have denied that they made an illegal approach last year to a schoolboy attached to another club. They were one of five clubs charged by the Football Association yesterday with trying to poach young players from other clubs.

Manchester United, Newcastle, Everton, Aston Villa and Wolves are alleged to have breached the FA's Programme of Excellence Regulations.

"We have submitted our response and vigorously deny the charge of an illegal approach to a 10-year-old player, formerly at Shrewsbury Town, in March 1997," Wolves' managing director, John Richards, said.

The clubs have until tomorrow to answer the charges. Everton have been charged following a complaint from Wolves in connection with four players, while Villa are charged over alleged approaches to three West Brom players and one at Charlton.

Hull have complained about Newcastle trying to sign two of their players, while Manchester United have been charged over alleged bids for a player each from Crewe and Stockport.

Brendon Batson, the Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief executive, said stiff sanctions should be applied if clubs continued to break the rules. "The rules are there and everybody should abide by them," he said.

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