Football: Forest keep Pearce and approach Collymore: Southend accept pounds 2.2m offer for striker while Barmby decides to stay at Spurs and Football League investigate Ardiles move

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The Independent Online
STAN COLLYMORE will return from a holiday in Mexico today and plan an urgent trip to the City Ground to discuss a move to Nottingham Forest, whose captain, Stuart Pearce, signed a new four-year contract yesterday, writes Ben Clissitt.

Forest's ambition to reverse their relegation was crucial in Pearce's decision to stay. 'Over the past month or so it had crossed my mind to leave the club,' the 31-year-old said. 'But the chairman and manager intend to get Forest straight back into the Premier League and that has been a big factor in my decision.'

The manager in question, Frank Clark, has made a pounds 2.2m offer for Collymore which was accepted by Southend, who last season rejected an offer of pounds 500,000 less from Clark's predecessor, Brian Clough.

The deal may eventually be worth more than pounds 3m to Southend, who bought the 22-year-old from Crystal Palace for pounds 150,000 at the beginning of last season.

It stipulates that Forest must pay an extra pounds 250,000 if Collymore scores more than 25 goals next season, the same sum if his new team are promoted in the next four seasons and a further pounds 250,000 if he makes the full England squad. Southend will also receive 15 per cent of any subsequent transfer profit.

'Leeds, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea all had a sniff, but Forest's is the only acceptable offer,' Barry Fry, the Southend manager, said.

The desire of Roy Keane to move to Manchester United, which is likely to finance Clark's latest dealings, excited the interest of their manager, Alex Ferguson, on his return from holiday. 'The next thing we have got to do is agree a fee,' he said. 'I will be contacting Forest later this week. A pounds 5m fee for a 21-year-old is totally unrealistic, but everyone wants to get as much as they can when they are selling. It is in Keane's contract that he can move for pounds 3.5m in October, so why should the fee suddenly be pounds 5m?'

Ossie Ardiles's emollient effect on Tottenham continued when Nick Barmby, the England youth striker, decided to stay at White Hart Lane while the new manager will talk further with Neil Ruddock today. He may need more than words to placate his old boss, Trevor Summers, the chairman of West Bromwich Albion, however.

The Football League is examining the manner of Ardiles's move. Summers claims that the Argentinian was induced to break a three-year contract with his club, but will defer any litigation until the League has investigated.

Barnet have been given until Thursday to put up financial guarantees totalling pounds 500,000. If they fail, the Football League will call an extraordinary general meeting of its clubs which will vote on whether the club will be allowed to play next season. Barnet's players are still owed five weeks' wages and promotion bonuses.

Sheffield United are set to change hands again as the Brealey family put their controlling interest up for sale at pounds 2.75m. A bid of pounds 2.5m from Kevin McCabe, a director of the club, has been rejected.

If Sheffield United proves too pricy, football entrepreneurs may wish to turn their attentions to Second Division Cardiff City, whose chairman, Rick Wright, yesterday slashed their asking price in half to pounds 1m. He has threatened to close the club if a buyer cannot be found.

Liverpool have denied that they owe any money to Rosenborg, who claim they are owed two-thirds of the pounds 660,000 transfer fee for Stig Bjornebye, the Norwegian international defender.