Football: Defiant Clough threatens to see out his contract at Forest: Reacher reduced to despair as dispute over rebel director's newspaper allegations jeopardizes team stability at the City Ground

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The Independent Online
BRIAN CLOUGH is becoming almost predictable in his perversity. In last week's retirement address he declared that 'like a woman, I might use my prerogative and change my mind'. Yesterday he did just that, saying he will now stay on for as long as the Nottingham Forest rebel director, Chris Wootton, does likewise.

Clough insists it had become a situation where both had to go. 'He is a Judas and I want to see the decks cleared before I wander off to tend the garden and walk the dog,' he said. 'I have a year remaining on my contract and I'll see it through. I'll stay for another five years if need be. If he doesn't go I'm not retiring, I'll see him off.'

But Wootton, who made a number of allegations concerning Clough to a Sunday newspaper, refuses to back down, declining a request to quit at Tuesday's board meeting, and it could be some time before he can be forced out. Either an extraordinary general meeting has to be called, which would take six weeks, or he would stay until the annual meeting in October, where he is due to come up for re-election.

Yesterday the Forest chairman, Fred Reacher, revealed his anger as the unhappy episode dragged on, and appealed again to Wootton. 'What is going on is totally detrimental to the club,' he said. 'If he had any feelings for Nottingham Forest football club, then the right and honourable thing would be to go.'

Forest need the position clarified as soon as possible, so a successor can begin negotiations with those players out of contract in the summer. Nigel Clough has already hinted he will not sign a new contract if Wootton stays.

The situation at Liverpool is hardly less bizarre and yesterday their Welsh international striker, Ian Rush, spoke on behalf of the team when he pleaded to be told what was happening with Graeme Souness, who is thought unlikely to be at Anfield after tomorrow's final game of the season against Tottenham.

'We want to know, as do the manager and the supporters,' Rush said. 'The club should either give Souness a vote of confidence or tell him that he's going.' Both Souness and the Liverpool chief executive, Peter Robinson, were rumoured to be meeting yesterday to discuss the manager's severance pay.

Queen's Park Rangers have warned Liverpool to erase Gerry Francis from their wanted list, should Souness depart. The Rangers chairman, Richard Thompson, said they would be hanging on to Francis at all costs, and also put transfer valuations of pounds 7m and pounds 3m respectively on Les Ferdinand and Andy Sinton in an attempt to ward off would-be buyers.

Non-League Notebook, page 32