Football: Goldberg makes case for Venables

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MARK GOLDBERG, the Crystal Palace chairman, yesterday launched a strong defence of his club's transfer policy and the role of his head coach, Terry Venables.

Palace have been at the centre of a Football Association investigation into alleged missing transfer fees, but Goldberg stressed that the First Division club had completed matters correctly. "We have certain infrastructures in place at Palace to ensure the worldwide problem of foreign transfers is not a problem for us," Goldberg said. "The FA have confirmed there are no irregularities.

"It is unfortunate that such a good football authority is attacked constantly by certain people and the media - but just look at his track record."

Goldberg defended Venables' work at the club and stressed that his role in players' transfer fees and salaries was purely advisory.

"In his three months at Palace we have purchased 13 players for under pounds 5m, we have sold seven players for over pounds 7m and he has made a saving on salaries of over pounds 800,000."

The Football Association is to lobby Uefa to delay the expansion of the European Super League, planned for next season. The Champions' League is set to undergo a revamp to a 32-team format, but the FA chairman, Keith Wiseman, who will attend an extraordinary general meeting in Geneva tomorrow is to lobby Europe's governing body to ask for more time to make the switch.

The main concern is that the plans could have repercussions for the international calendar and FA Cup replays, with pressure on FA Cup ties to be settled in one game to avoid cluttering up the fixture list.

"Our preference would be for the new Champions' League to begin in the season 2000-2001," the FA chief executive, Graham Kelly, said. "The clubs are rushing for the cash, but if you are making fundamental changes you have time to get it right."

Kelly said is also supporting the campaign to guarantee the Worthington Cup winners a place in the Uefa Cup when it is merged with the European Cup-Winners' Cup.

"We are concerned to do everything possible to gain more places for English clubs," Kelly said. "If the European place was taken away it would certainly place the future of the competition in jeopardy."

Rangers say they are interested in signing Liverpool's Steve McManaman when his contract runs out at the end of the season. The 26-year-old has already attracted attention from a host of clubs, including Real Madrid.