Football: Blades chairman to depart

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THE Sheffield United fans who demonstrated against their chairman, Mike McDonald, at Bramall Lane on Tuesday have had a result - the announcement of his resignation.

The supporters were protesting against McDonald after the surprise decision of the manager, Nigel Spackman, to leave the First Division club on Monday.

McDonald reacted by announcing yesterday that he intends to stand down. "I am not here to be abused. I have always said from the outset that, on the football side, once the fans don't want me, I will go. We are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, in the top six in the League and the fans are not happy for some reason or other. I have said all along that, if they are not happy with me, then I won't be there."

However, McDonald will still be part of Sheffield United plc. "I will get on with developing the ground around the stadium," he said.

Lou Macari, tipped to become Spackman's successor, yesterday said he has had no contact with the Blades over their vacancy - but that he would jump at the chance. The former Birmingham, Celtic and Stoke manager has been out of work since July last year after leaving Stoke.

"Obviously I am flattered that my name has been mentioned and I would love the chance to get back into management," Macari said. "I do know Mr McDonald, and maybe in the next 24 hours things will change, although there has been no approach. We will just have to wait and see."

The Bolton Wanderers defender Mike Whitlow has been ruled out for the rest of the season with knee ligament damage. The 30-year-old left-back, a pounds 700,000 signing from Leicester City earlier this season, was carried off during a game at Barnsley on 3 January.

Everton's veteran defender Dave Watson is poised to sign a new one-year contract with the club. Claus Thomsen, the club's Danish midfielder, though, is to leave Goodison for AB Copenhagen for a fee of pounds 500,000.

The Crystal Palace forward Attilio Lombardo is set to return to first- team action next week against Chelsea. He tore a thigh muscle while training with the Italian squad back in November and his comeback at home to Liverpool in December ended after just 48 minutes when he went off injured again.

The Aberdeen defender Ilian Kiriakov is facing further disciplinary action from the Scottish Football Association. The Bulgarian, who was sent-off on Saturday by the referee Kevin Bisset for spitting at Kilmarnock's Jim McIntyre, already faces a three-match suspension.

The SFA's disciplinary committee will discuss the matter at its meeting on Monday and will assess whether further punishment is merited.