Football: City face Boler power struggle

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MANCHESTER CITY were facing a crisis last night following the death of their main shareholder, Stephen Boler.

The millionaire businessman died of a heart attack, with a rush for his eight million shares expected to follow. Boler had been looking for a buyer before his death, but his asking price of pounds 8m had scared off prospective investors.

The main players in the bidding for the 24 per cent stake will be Mike McDonald, the former Sheffield United chairman, and City's vice-president, Raymond Donn. Even the former City chairman, Francis Lee, might return. He has been back to games recently and may bid rather than see the club fall into other hands.

City have completed the sale of the striker Lee Bradbury to Crystal Palace for pounds 1.5m, and have signed two players on loan: the Huddersfield defender Andy Morrison and the Everton striker Michael Branch

Arsenal have signed the 20-year-old Argentinian striker, Fabian Caballero, on loan for the rest of the season from Cerro Porteno, a Paraguayanclub. The Gunners have also declared that their England defender Martin Keown is not for sale, following reported interest from Blackburn Rovers.

Though they were also knocked back by Dion Dublin yesterday, one player Blackburn did manage to sign was the Italian midfielder, Dario Marcolin, on loan from Lazio for the rest of the season, with an option to buy him for pounds 1m.

Dermot Gallagher has admitted that he should have sent off Blackburn Rovers' captain, Tim Sherwood, for his tackle on Arsenal's Patrick Vieira last Sunday. The referee said he had studied video evidence of the challenge. "Having seen the incident again from another angle it would have been a red card," he said. "Unfortunately Patrick Vieira's body was between me and Tim Sherwood. That is why I gave a foul for a reckless tackle and only a caution."

Manchester United have set up a deal for a new goalkeeper. Gunni Gunnlifursson, the pounds 500,000-rated Icelandic Under-21 international, flew in yesterday for talks about a move from KR Rejkyavik.

Southampton have pulled out of a move to sign the Wimbledon striker, Efan Ekoku, after being told they would have to double their transfer record to buy him. "I asked Wimbledon for a price and I was quoted pounds 4m. My interest ended there and then," said the Saints manager, David Jones.

Wimbledon have signed the Port Vale winger, Gareth Ainsworth, for pounds 2m. The 25-year-old had also attracted interest from Leeds and Everton.

Pierre van Hooijdonk begins his Premiership rehabilitation today, when the errant Dutchman returns to club football. The 28-year-old forward will bring his one-man strike to an end when he joins his Nottingham Forest team-mates for the first time since May.

The acrimony of the last few months is bound to tell, however - the Dutchman's manager, Dave Bassett, was unsure yesterday whether he would even shake the player's hand.

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