Football: Leeds end long wait by signing Deane: Sheffield United remain divided over pounds 2.9m sale of England striker to Elland Road

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The Independent Online
LIKE Mick Jones, Tony Currie and Alex Sabella before him, the England striker Brian Deane finally left Sheffield United for Leeds United yesterday - leaving the Bramall Lane board bitterly divided in his wake.

Two Sheffield directors, Derek Dooley and Bernard Proctor, announced their intention to resign. A third, the club's shirt sponsor, Alan Laver, said he was 'greatly disturbed' by the decision to accept Leeds's pounds 2.9m offer - in preference to a higher bid by Sheffield Wednesday - and would 'seriously consider' his position.

Reg Brealey, the Sheffield chairman, explained that the Wednesday offer was a non-starter. 'Some of the board were hostile to this move to our neighbours, and Deane indicated that he didn't fancy it. No player can be forced to accept a transfer. The offer from Leeds was the only one that could be processed, and if any directors wish to resign over this issue, so be it.'

At Elland Road, there was relief that a transfer greeted with premature triumphalism a week earlier had been resolved, albeit at nearly pounds 1m more than last summer's record outlay for David Rocastle. Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, admitted he had coveted the 25-year-old, 6ft 3in centre-forward 'for 15 months', while the Leeds-born Deane was 'delighted' to join the club he had followed since boyhood.

Wednesday expect the considerable consolation of landing Des Walker for pounds 2.5m from Sampdoria - who have asked Juventus about David Platt's availability - this week.

Neither Trevor Francis nor Wilkinson is likely to be among those responding to a letter from Portsmouth's Guy Whittingham. The out-of-contract striker has written to all the Premier League managers inviting them to sign him.

Manchester City, who along with Wednesday and Aston Villa are awaiting a decision from Chelsea's Andy Townsend, are to sign the Blackpool forward, Trevor Sinclair. City will pay a 'substantial sum' up front for the 20- year-old, rising to as much as pounds 1m depending on appearances.

Glenn Hoddle's current worth as a player will today be assessed by a tribunal. Swindon, who accepted pounds 120,000 from Chelsea for the manager's part of his contract, are seeking pounds 1m.

David Speedie, the much-travelled Scottish striker, has joined Leicester City on a free transfer from Southampton.

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