Football: Lazio put pounds 5m price tag on Casiraghi as Rovers ponder player's demands

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers have been told they can have Pierluigi Casiraghi for pounds 5m. But the Lazio striker's personal demands of pounds 28,000 a week on a three-year contract, which would bring the club's expenditure on the deal to pounds 9m, may, as reported yesterday, prove a stumbling block.

Rovers' owner, Jack Walker, is reluctant to break the club's wage structure, and a leading Italian agent has said that Casiraghi has also been in talks with another Premiership club, so the player's future remains far from settled.

Gerry Francis, whose situation as Tottenham manager became even more desperate following Saturday's 4-0 defeat at Liverpool, denied yesterday that he is set to replace Stewart Houston as Queen's Park Rangers' manager.

"Stories linking me with Queen's Park Rangers are total rubbish and a complete fabrication," said Francis, who was in charge of QPR from 1991 to 1994. "I have not had any contact whatsoever with anybody from the club."

Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager, has emerged as Houston's most likely successor. Although QPR fans want Francis to return, moves have begun to lure Curbishley, with an official approach imminent.

Houston believes that he and his assistant, Bruce Rioch, were sacked to appease impatient shareholders. The axe fell 24 hours before the Rangers chairman, Chris Wright, was due to face last night's annual general meeting of Loftus Road plc, the holding company which also embraces Wasps rugby union club.

"With that meeting coming up, perhaps I shouldn't have been too surprised," Houston said. "In business these days people demand success right away."

Ron Atkinson has ruled himself out of the running for the vacant Sheffield Wednesday post. The former Coventry manager, who left Wednesday in acrimonious circumstances in 1991 to take over at Aston Villa, said: "I have had no contact with anyone from Sheffield Wednesday and I will not become the next Wednesday manager."

The former England manager Bobby Robson, currently the director of recruitment at Barcelona, has been linked with an imminent return to one of his former clubs, Sporting Lisbon, as technical director.

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