Football: Ferdinand persuaded to stay at Loftus Road

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LES FERDINAND has (temporarily at least) put a stop to the rumour factory linking him with one of the superpowers of English football. The 27-year-old Queen's Park Rangers and England striker yesterday signed a new two-year contract with the Loftus Road club.

'I hope this ends all speculation for the time being,' said Ferdinand, who has been associated with possible pounds 4m-plus moves to Newcastle, Manchester United or Arsenal. 'Rangers have shown loyalty to me, so I am being loyal to them.' Clive Wilson has also signed a new deal to stay with the club.

On his way out of Loftus Road, however, is Ray Wilkins, the former England midfielder, who has been released unexpectedly. The 37-year- old is likely to interest several clubs, with Crystal Palace possibly ahead of Norwich in the queue.

Gerry Francis, Rangers' manager, said: 'You have to look to the future and Ray will be 38 in a couple of months. I only have a certain budget to work with and it is not the biggest. I have utilised a lot of it in the new deals for Les and Clive. I also want to bring in two or three new players.'

Reg Burr, the Millwall chairman, has apologised for referring to the Derby County player, Paul Williams, as an 'unpleasant player . . . one of those who attracts trouble and abuse' in the aftermath of the pitch invasions that marred Wednesday's First Division play-off semi-final at the New Den.

Arsenal have confirmed their interest in Stefan Schwarz, the Sweden and Benfica midfielder. 'I've decided that I want to play for Arsenal,' Schwarz, 25, has said.