Football: Beckham omission may prove costly

SIR ALEX FERGUSON has confirmed that David Beckham will not be joining Manchester United's tour to Australia, even if it costs the club pounds 1m.

The tour organisers have threatened to withdraw half of United's appearance money if Beckham is not in the squad but neither he nor the United manager will fly out with the squad on Monday. Sir Alex is staying at home before his investiture at Buckingham Palace while Beckham begins pre-season training.

Uefa will ask United and Newcastle United to release Roy Keane, Denis Irwin and Shay Given for the rescheduled Euro 2000 qualifier against Yugoslavia on 1 September. Although the new date falls two days after the two sides meet, the three do not have to be released because the game is not a recognised international date.

Leeds have agreed a package to buy the central defender Michael Duberry from Chelsea. They will pay Chelsea pounds 4.5m rising to a possible pounds 5m, depending on appearances.

Sheffield Wednesday hope to complete deals for two strikers: PSV Eindhoven's Gilles De Bilde and Gerald Sibon of Ajax. Southampton have agreed a deal to buy Sporting Lisbon's right-back, Bruno Leal, the brother of Arsenal's Luis Boa Morte.

Faustino Asprilla has left Parma for Brazil's Palmeiras after failing to hold down a first-team place last season following his return from Newcastle.

A consortium of Crystal Palace directors is preparing a bid to take control of the First Division club in a move that might pave the way for former owner Ron Noades to return. The plan would see the removal of chairman, Mark Goldberg, who bought the club for pounds 23m a year ago from Noades and has since led the club into administration with debts estimated at pounds 22m.

Everton have been fined pounds 50,000 by a Football Association disciplinary commission for failing to improve their misconduct record from the 1997- 98 season.

One thousand Premiership and Football League players will be randomly drug-tested next season - double the number of last season - following two positive tests on young players in the last two days.