FOOTBALL: Francis set to finalise move to Birmingham

Fry's patient pursuit at last pays off
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The Independent Online
Barry Fry looks like getting his man at last: the on-off transfer of Stockport County's giant striker, Kevin Francis, to Birmingham City should be completed today.

Fry, the Birmingham manager, was due to meet Francis at Anfield last night after his side's FA Cup replay against Liverpool, and if talks are concluded satisfactorily the deal will be done at £800,000, with half a million paid immediately and the rest due after agreed numbers of appearances.

"We have accepted Birmingham's offer and it is now up to the player and City to finalise the details," Brendan Elwood, the Stockport chairman, said.

Francis, who cost County just £45,000 from Derby in 1991, was on the verge of moving to St Andrews before Christmas, but the deal fell through and the player then suffered a hairline fracture of his ankle, and has yet to return to Second Division action.

On the other side of Birmingham, Brian Little, the Aston Villa manager, confirmed that Everton have made a bid for Earl Barrett, whose first-team prospects have been harmed by the arrival of Gary Charles from Derby. Joe Royle, the Everton manager, sold Barrett to Villa for £1.7m three years ago when he was in charge at Oldham, and he may have to pay a similar sum to buy him back.

Leeds United remain confident of signing the Ghanaian international striker, Anthony Yeboah, from Eintracht Frankfurt, despite ongoing problems in securing a work permit from the Department of Employment. "We were asked by the DoE last night for more information, which we have now supplied," Bill Fotherby, Leeds' managing director, said yesterday. "We are very confident that the transfer will go through."

The fee that Arsenal will have to pay for Chris Kiwomya, who arrived at Highbury from Ipswich last week, will be settled by a transfer tribunal on Wednesday. The Gunners have offered £500,000, while the Suffolk club have asked for £2m. On the same day that they signed Kiwomya, Arsenal paid Luton £2.5m for John Hartson, who is much less experienced than Kiwomya.

However, the 25-year-old had struggled to hold on to a first-team place at Portman Road this season. "Chris was an outstanding forward for Ipswich three years ago, but hasn't achieved as much as he should have done in his career so far," George Graham, the Gunners' manager, said. "When we signed the two players last week the press was talking about a £4m double deal, but that figure is way off the mark."

Leicester City's recruitment programme continued with the arrival of the former Scottish international defender, Mike Galloway, from Celtic on a month's loan. If he impresses, the move will become permanent at a fee of £250,000. Galloway, 29, started hiscareer in England with Mansfield and Halifax before moving to Hearts and then Celtic. "I have brought him down here to help freshen things up," the Leicester manager, Mark McGhee, said.

Crystal Palace yesterday denied reports that Newcastle United have made a £6m bid for their much-coveted striker, Chris Armstrong. Last week the Selhurst Park club turned down a bid of £4.7m from the Magpies for the 23-year-old Armstrong, formerly with Wrexham and Millwall. He appears to be Newcastle's main target as they seek a replacement for Andy Cole, sold to Manchester United in a £7m deal last week.

"Newcastle have not been in touch with us. We have not had a bigger bid for Chris," the Palace chairman, Ron Noades, said. "We would not be interested in selling Chris even if they did come back. We are not interested in selling anybody at the moment."

Masinga's target, page 39

Ken Jones, page 38