Football: Bruce is a no-go area, United told

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The Independent Online
SHEFFIELD UNITED have said they will resist any approach from Manchester United for their manager Steve Bruce,who has been linked with a return to Old Trafford to take over as Alex Ferguson's No 2 following Brian Kidd's move to Blackburn Rovers.

"There has been absolutely no approach from Manchester United for Steve and we would not welcome one," Philip Wood, the Blades chief executive, said.

Liverpool's manager, Gerard Houllier, is having talks with Bayern Munich's veteran centre-half, Thomas Helmer, with a view to bringing the player to Merseyside on a free transfer. Helmer is looking for around pounds 1m a year, and the salary and the length of contract may yet cause problems.

Chelsea have offered nearly pounds 2m to Argentina's River Plate for the Spanish international striker Juan Antonio Pizzi. The 30-year-old, who has scored eight goals in 22 appearances for Spain, joined the Buenos Aires club in the summer from Barcelona for pounds 1.2m.

Struggling Oxford United yesterday completed formalities for the sale of their England Under-21 left-back, Simon Marsh, to Birmingham City as they try to stave off their continuing financial crisis.

The eventual fee could hit pounds 400,000, with United receiving an initial payment of pounds 250,000, a further pounds 50,000 after 40 first-team appearances and a further pounds 100,000 if Marsh helps City into the Premiership.

The Rangers chairman, David Murray, said yesterday he hoped to bring the Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper, Stefan Klos, to Glasgow soon. If his club allow his sale before the end of the season, Rangers will pay a fee. Otherwise he will be a free agent in the summer.

Nigel Martyn and Lucas Radebe yesterday both agreed to extend their contracts with Leeds United by two years.

Jesper Mattsson, from Sweden's Halmstad, has signed a two-and-a-half year contract with Nottingham Forest. The 30-year-old central defender has been capped once for Sweden.

Wolverhampton Wanderers have appointed the former Bristol City manager John Ward as the new assistant manager at Molineux. Ward, who has also had spells in charge of York City and Bristol Rovers, becomes Colin Lee's deputy.

Ipswich Town are giving Marseilles' French Under-21 international right- back Hamada Jambay a one-week trial.

Asian football officials will hold an emergency meeting next Tuesday to decide what action to take, having been awarded only two qualifying slots for the 2002 World Cup.

The European Champions' League was yesterday formally increased to 32 teams at a meeting of the Continent's football's governing body, Uefa. It was also confirmed that the Uefa Cup and the European Cup-Winners' Cup will be merged into one tournament from next season. Precise details will be announced today.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS' LEAGUE: 1999-2000 schedule released by Uefa yesterday: First qualifying round: 14 and 21 July. Second qualifying round: 28 July and 4 August. Third qualifying round: 11 Aug and 25 August. First round (eight groups of four teams): To be contested on Wednesdays and Thursdays: 15 and 16 September, 22 and 23 September, 29 and 30 September, 20 and 21 October, 27 and 28 October, 3 and 4 November. Second round (four groups of four): 24 and 25 November, 8 and 9 December, 1 and 2 March, 8 and 9 March, 15 and 16 March, 22 and 23 March. Quarter-finals: 5 and 6 April, 19 and 20 April. Semi-finals: 3 and 10 May. Final: 24 May.

UEFA CUP 1999-2000 SCHEDULE (To be contested on Tuesdays): Qualifying round: 10 and 24 August. First round: 14 and 28 September. Second round: 19 October and 2 November. Third round: 23 November and 7 December. Fourth round: 29 February and 7 March. Quarter-finals: 14 and 21 March. Semi- finals: 4 and 18 April. Final: 17 May.