Football: Derby turn to Croatia for recruitment

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The Independent Online
Newly-promoted Derby County went back to Croatia yesterday in order strengthen their chances of Premiership survival next season. They signed the midfielder Aljosa Asanovic, the international team-mate of the Rams' sweeper, Igor Stimac, for pounds 950,000 from Hajduk Split.

Lacking the kind of funds which were made available to Arthur Cox a few years back, Jim Smith, their manager, has had to shop prudently and a player of Asanovic's stature comes cheap at the price (just as Stimac did), even for a 30-year-old.

Smith, who had to see off late interest from Verona, said: "Igor was instrumental in persuading him to join us. He has said for a long time that this was the guy we needed."

Graham Kelly, the Football Association chief executive, refused to comment yesterday on a newspaper report that Paul Gascoigne would be made to pay pounds 5,000 compensation from his own pocket for damage caused to the Cathay Pacific plane which flew home the England party from Hong Kong.

Refusing to talk in detail about investigations into the incident, Kelly said that the report was not "100 per cent accurate". He did add, though, that there was "no reason to doubt their word that it happened where Paul Gascoigne was sitting. There is certainly no suggestion that any other player was involved."

It was not the FA's only headache yesterday. The National Sporting Club is threatening to sue them for compensation over a Euro 96 ticket enquiry which led to a raid on the club's offices by the Metropolitan Police. Charges of selling 1,300 tickets illegally were later dropped.

Meanwhile, Roy Keane, the Manchester United midfielder, is keen to repair the rift between himself and Mick McCarthy, the Republic of Ireland manager, after he went on holiday when he was meant to report with the rest of the team in Dublin. "I can understand Mick not being very happy with the situation, but I hope it is not irreparable," Keane said.

Barry Fry, sacked as manager of Birmingham City, is poised to move into the boardroom at Peterborough United in place of Chris Turner, the chief executive and a close friend of Fry, who intends to stand down because of illness.

Nationwide Building Society has confirmed a record pounds 5.25m three-season Football League sponsorship. Chelsea are expecting to bank pounds 2.6m in season ticket sales following the signing of Gianluca Vialli.

Bertie Vogts, the Germany coach, has said that Lothar Matthaus will never play for the national side again following comments about his team-mate, Jurgen Klinsmann.

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