Football: Fulham ready to tackle life after Keegan

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FULHAM FANS will feel a range of emotions at Craven Cottage this afternoon as they celebrate their Second Division championship but bid farewell to the man who steered them to their first trophy in 50 years.

Most of them woke up yesterday morning to the news that Keegan had revealed, on a late-night television programme, that he intends to "make a clean break" from the club to coach England full-time.

"You can't do the two jobs," Keegan said. "Otherwise you jeopardise both parties and that includes Fulham. If someone says to me `there's a certain amount of money, just come and be a figurehead', I don't want that. If I had, I'd [still] be at Newcastle."

Fulham confirmed yesterday that Keegan will leave after today's match against Preston and that Mohamed Al Fayed, the club's owner, had been formally approached by the Football Association. It was suggested last night that Al Fayed may demand up to pounds 1m in compensation from the FA.

There were also reports of an acrimonious meeting between Keegan and Al Fayed, after which Keegan was said to have left the ground without comment, suggesting uncertainty as to whether he will even be present at today's game.

However, when Neil Rodford, the club's managing director, officially confirmed Keegan's departure, he said: "The game against Preston will clearly be Kevin Keegan's last in charge and the club is glad he will be present for the game and the celebrations. The continued success of Fulham depends on achieving an orderly resolution to the current unsettling situation."

Paul Bracewell and Frank Sibley, Keegan's assistants, will take charge of team affairs while Fulham search for a replacement.

Despite the apparently acrimonious departure, Keegan is unlikely to be given a rough ride by the fans. David Lloyd, the editor of the One F in Fulham fanzine, said: "The timing has rankled and there's a sense of betrayal amongst some fans, but I'd like to think he will still be welcome at Fulham."

He added: "Keegan was bitten by the Fulham bug but he's been bitten by an even bigger bug."