Football: Leeds land Yeboah at last

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The Independent Online
Leeds United's search for a high-profile goal scorer, which has had the club embarrassed by refusals from more strikers than a box of Swan Vestas, ended yesterday when the Ghanaian, Tony Yeboah, completed his club-record £3.4m transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt. It ended a long and not entirely painless pursuit, as the club has been linked with Duncan Ferguson, Karlheinz Riedle, Thomas Skuhravy and Ruben Sosa in their efforts to replace the 1991-92 Championship attack of Lee Chapman, Rod Wallace and, dare one say it, the lost and lamented Eric Cantona.

The manager, Howard Wilkinson did dare, making a direct comparison between Yeboah and the Frenchman, whom he let go to join Manchester United. "I don't see why he can't make the same impact as Eric," he said. "His pedigree is just as good. He arrived at Frankfurt as an unknown and left it the club captain; that says something about him."

The circumstances of Yeboah's arrival mirror Cantona's in that he had fallen out with his club just as the enfant terrible became disenchanted with the French football authorities. The plus side, is that he has been the Bundesliga's top scorer for two seasons.

Even so, it has required some persuasion from Leeds to satisfy the Department of Employment's work permit requirements after Yeboah's contract had a 12-month get-out clause in case his family failed to settle. Yeboah, who is likely to be a substitute in Leeds' Premiership match against Queen's Park Rangers tonight, says he is around 80 per cent fit as a result of Germany's eight-week winter lay-off. "The supporters will expect a lot because of the fee," he said, "but all I can do is my best and hope forthe luck that all goalscorers require."

After a weekend of speculation about the future of his £4m-rated striker, Crystal Palace manager, Alan Smith, yesterday banned agents from the club's training ground. Partly blaming Saturday's 3-1 defeat by Everton on media activity, Smith said: "I have told all my players that if they are not happy, put in a transfer request now."

Leyton Orient directors are to mount a desperate battle to prevent the Second Division club going out of business. The 114-year-old outfit face an uncertain future after an Essex businessman, Phil Wallace, withdrew from a potential takeover yesterday.

Wallace decided not to go ahead after a thorough examination of the books revealed that the club's situation was worse than he had first believed. Unless Orient's five-man board can come up with another rescue package, the club may fold.

The referee branded a "disgrace" by Blackburn's manager, Kenny Dalglish, after he disallowed a goal late in their Premiership match at Manchester United on Sunday stood by his decision yesterday. Paul Durkin ruled that Alan Shearer had committed a foul moments before Tim Sherwood headed home in the 87th minute, denying Rovers a 1-1 draw.

Dalglish claimed the decision could cost Blackburn the title, but Durkin said: "Alan Shearer pushed Roy Keane before the ball was placed into the net. I was not going to get involved in a slanging match with anyone over this.

Dalglish, however, seems likely to escape FA censure over his comments about Durkin. The Football Association's Mike Parry said: "We haven't received the referee's report of the match yet, but nobody has complained about what Kenny Dalglish said. Lookingat the video, he seemed to say `that's disgraceful', but there's a big difference between using the words and branding the referee."

Stoke have signed the striker John Gayle from Burnley in a £70,000 deal, three months after he joined the Turf Moor club. Burnley have abandoned plans to solve their goalkeeping crisis by signing Peter Shilton.

Derby are on course to complete the signing of Notts County's centre-half, Dean Yates, this week. Their manager, Roy McFarland, has agreedterms with Yates, who is on a weekly contract at Meadow Lane, but the two clubs have failed to fix a fee.

The Second Division leaders, Birmingham, have signed the defender, Mick Bodley, on loan from Southend to cover for suspensions to Liam Daish and Gary Cooper and injuries to Chris Whyte and John Frain.

Last night's match, page 31