Football: Keane's new contract

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ROY KEANE ended months of speculation about his future by signing a new three-and-a-half- year contract with Nottingham Forest as a show of loyalty to the man who gave him his chance in England, Brian Clough.

Clough bought Keane from Cobh Ramblers in Ireland for pounds 25,000, and gave him his debut in August 1990 at 18 at Anfield. He handled it magnificently, became a regular in the side and is now a central figure in Forest's attempts to stave off relegation.

'By signing a new contract people will realise that I want to show some loyalty to them,' Keane said. 'The speculation has bothered me a little bit, but now it is all over and all I want to do is concentrate on helping Forest stay in the Premier League.'

At one point, it had seemed Keane would fall out with Forest as talks dragged on and Clough publicly criticised his wage demands.

John Lyall, the manager, and his team manager Mick McGiven have signed new contracts with Ipswich Town. John Kerr, the chairman of the Premier League's surprise package, would not reveal the length of the new deal, but Lyall, 53, who managed West Ham for 14 years, is known to want to stay at Portman Road until he retires.

Ian Wright, the Arsenal and England striker, has been warned to keep his hands to himself in future by the referee who saved him from another brush with authority.

John Martin confirmed that he booked Wright during the 1-1 draw at Norwich last night for dissent, and not for raising his right hand, which made contact with the referee's face. Though it appeared a well-meaning gesture, it broke the cardinal rule that officials are untouchable, and a more sensitive referee could have sent him off.

It was a rash action by Wright, who has already served a three- match suspension for throwing a hand into the face of an opponent this season.

'He gets excited at times. His hand did touch my face, but it wasn't anything malicious. I've seen the picture and it looks worse than it was,' Martin said. 'I was more concerned that he kept on protesting in an angry and aggressive manner; that's why I cautioned him.'

Aston Villa's manager, Ron Atkinson, has dismissed claims by his Liverpool counterpart, Graeme Souness, that he made a players- plus-cash offer for the England winger John Barnes.

Atkinson has confirmed that he made an enquiry about Barnes, but he denies offering Garry Parker and Earl Barrett, plus pounds 1m in cash. Such a deal would have been worth almost pounds 4m.

Crystal Palace made a net profit of pounds 851,492 for the year ending 30 June 1992 but this was achieved due to a surplus in transfer dealings of pounds 1,476,750. The club announced a trading loss of pounds 625,258 at their annual meeting yesterday.

Lennart Johansson, the president of European football's governing body, Uefa, wants to create a 128-team European Super League for the 1994-95 season. 'My new system, and I want to underline that it's just my personal idea, would be to have only two European competitions instead of the present three,' Johansson told the Spanish daily El Pais in an interview yesterday.

He suggested merging the European Cup with the Uefa Cup to make one league of 128 top European clubs from the 47 European federations. The teams would be divided into geographical divisions, with the top 16 teams going forward to a finals stage.

Rangers ride high,

FA Cup countdown, page 33