Football: Francis may abandon Blues

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The Independent Online
TREVOR FRANCIS is to hold talks with Birmingham's City chairman, David Gold, over the next few days to determine whether he will remain at St Andrew's. Francis may have managed his last game for the Blues following a 7-6 penalty shoot-out defeat to Watford in Thursday's Nationwide League First Division promotion play-off semi-final, which finished 1-1 on aggregate.

After three seasons at the City helm, and despite a year-on-year improvement - 10th, seventh and fourth - Francis may feel the time is right to walk away. Last summer, he was looking for a three-to-four year deal but was only offered two, which led to him taking out the option of renewing his 12-month rolling contract. Now, Francis is seeking certain conditions before putting pen to paper again.

The main stumbling block will be how much money he has to spend. "I said in my programme notes that when the last ball had been kicked I needed to organise a meeting between myself and the owners because I've got a lot of talking to do," Francis said. "I don't want to speculate, but I want to sit down with them and I want to hear what their ambitions are and, once I've had that meeting, I'll be able to comment then. But even though we haven't gone up, we will have to improve for next year. We have never discussed how much money will be available, but this is the sort of question I'll be asking the owners at the appropriate time."

Another manager to fail in the play-offs was looking for a new job yesterday. Wigan Athletic sacked Ray Mathias two days after their defeat to Manchester City in the Second Division semi-final.

Mathias, who took over without a contract from John Deehan earlier this season, steered Wigan to Wembley success in the Auto Windscreens Shield and to sixth place in the table, but the 2-1 aggregate defeat to City cost him his job.

"It was a difficult decision but all four members of the board are unanimous that it is in the club's interest to make a change," Wigan's wealthy owner, Dave Whelan, said.

Mathias was in his second spell with the club, having ended a three-year reign in 1989. The Latics' general manager, John Benson, will step into the breach until a permanent replacement is found.

Fight for Ferdinand, page 31

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