Football: Hartson stalls on new deal

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The Independent Online
AS West Ham's Welsh striker John Hartson flew into Tunisia last night to face England's first World Cup rivals with his country, his club future looked less certain.

Hartson - who is believed to want pounds 20,000 a week to sign a new deal - has been stalling over signing a three-year extension to his current extension, and last week was the subject of a bid from Blackburn.

West Ham put a pounds 10m price tag on their top scorer - before saying he was not for sale and Blackburn Rovers manager Roy Hodgson splashed out pounds 7.5m on Southampton's Kevin Davies instead. Hartson has been in brilliant form for the Hammers and scored the second goal in Wales's 3-0 win in Malta on Wednesday.

Leeds and Aston Villa are anxiously awaiting a decision from Alan Thompson after holding talks with the Bolton midfielder. The two clubs are in a straight fight for the 24-year-old, with Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale and Aston Villa supremo Doug Ellis both prepared to spend pounds 4m to secure his services.

Coventry are hoping to quickly complete the pounds 700,000 signing of Jean Guy Wallemme from French champions Lens while newly-promoted Bristol City have signed Fulham striker Tony Thorpe for pounds 1m.

Joseph Blatter, the Fifa presidential hopeful emphasised his commitment to award the 2006 World Cup to an African country as he hit the campaign trail in battle-torn Liberia.

Blatter, who met with local football officials and Liberian star George Weah, also promised to increase funding to sport programmes in this West African country which in 1996 emerged from seven years of civil war.

Celtic yesterday dismissed their assistant head coach Murdo MacLeod, who was Wim Jansen's No 2. In a short statement, the Parkhead side announced that MacLeod had his contract terminated.

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