Football: Kamara leaves struggling Stoke

CHRIS KAMARA ended his short reign as Stoke City manager yesterday after recording only one victory in 14 games in charge of the struggling First Division side. The Potteries club's assistant manager, Alan Durban, was appointed caretaker until the end of the season.

Kamara, the former Bradford City manager, took over at Stoke in January after signing an 18-month contract. It took 12 games before he guided the club to victory, and last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Reading was the last straw. During Kamara's spell in charge, the club has slipped from 15th to last place in the division.

"I am disappointed that things have not worked out as I expected," Kamara said. "I have enjoyed working with the board and under different circumstances and with a little bit of luck things could have been so much better. "

The Stoke vice-chairman, Keith Humphreys, said Kamara left the club by "mutual consent" and a settlement had been reached over the remaining 13 months of his contract.

"Most people thought Chris's appointment would be a good one, but it hasn't worked out," Humphreys said. "It has been a nightmare time for all concerned and we wish Chris all the best in the future."

Durban, a former Derby County and Wales player, managed Stoke from 1978 to 1981 and guided the club back to the old First Division in 1979. He will work closely with the former manager Chic Bates but said yesterday that he is not interested in taking the job permanently: "I'm here because I want to get this club out of their current situation," he said.

The Tottenham striker Les Ferdinand is likely to escape further punishment after his criticism of a pounds 2,500 fine handed out by the Football Association on Tuesday. Ferdinand had incurred the FA's wrath for describing the referee Gerald Ashby "an absolute disgrace" following his performance in Tottenham's 3-1 FA Cup fourth-round replay defeat at Barnsley in February. And despite being warned as to his future conduct, the England international delivering another broadside to referees and the FA.

However, an FA spokesman said: "As far as we are concerned the matter is now closed."

Ferdinand, meanwhile, scored his second goal in three days for Spurs' reserves yesterday and is available for the club's Easter Premiership programme.

Darren Pitcher, the Crystal Palace midfielder who damaged a cruciate knee ligament in a match at Huddersfield in August 1996, has been forced to retire. The 28-year-old underwent two operations but after recovering, was restricted to a limited number of reserve appearances and a loan spell at Leyton Orient.

There was better news for Chelsea yesterday as their Uruguayan midfielder, Gustavo Poyet, announced that he was fit enough to return to the side.

Poyet snapped a cruciate knee ligament six months ago, but after two comeback matches in the reserves, he believes he is now ready to play a role in the climax to Chelsea's season. "Now it is up to Gianluca Vialli when he wants to recall me for the first team," said Poyet. "I am ready and confident."

West Ham United have applied for a Lottery grant to buy Bobby Moore's medals and England caps, including the former club captain's 1966 World Cup winner's medal. The collection, worth pounds 2.5m, has been put up for sale by Moore's former wife, Tina.

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