Football: Juninho free to return

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The Independent Online
JUNINHO'S PROPOSED return to Middlesbrough moved a step closer after the Department of Education and Employment yesterday recommended he be awarded a work permit.

The Brazilian was a great success on Teesside during his spell at the club between 1995 and 1997, despite their relegation from the Premiership. He is out of favour at Atletico Madrid and is eager to return to Boro on loan until the end of the season.

Boro went to appeal on Friday after the player's application for a work permit was turned down because of his lack of internationals in the last two years left him below the 75 per cent of games he required under the application criteria. The fact that he was named the Premiership Player of the Year in 1997 was a major part of the club's appeal.

Leicester's manager, Martin O'Neill, will make an announcement tomorrow regarding his future at Filbert Street in the wake of the boardroom row which has divided the club's directors. "Let me put it this way - I really want to stay at this football club," he said yesterday.

The division, which stems from the so-called "Gang of Four", led by Pierpoint, trying to wrest control of the club from John Elsom and Sir Rodney Walker, came to a head this week when the chief executive, Barry Pierpoint, issued a statement to the Stock Exchange claiming that Elsom, the club chairman, and Walker, the plc chief executive, had resigned. Elsom and Walker had not in fact resigned.

O'Neill agreed to stay at Filbert Street last year with the warning: "There must be no more interference in football matters."

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