Football: Leicester put faith in O'Neill

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SIR RODNEY Walker, the chairman of Leicester plc, yesterday cleared the way for the Leicester City manager, Martin O'Neill, to move to Leeds by admitting that there is very little he can do to prevent O'Neill from discussing the vacant manager's position with the Yorkshire club.

This latest twist in the turbulent saga will immediately prompt the Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, into making yet another approach to City asking for permission to speak to O'Neill. Walker, however, remains defiantly optimistic that the 46-year-old Ulsterman will honour his contract and not leave Filbert Street to take over at Elland Road as successor to George Graham, recently departed for Tottenham Hotspurs.

"We have refused Leeds permission to talk to Martin and we will continue to do so formally," Sir Rodney said. "But if he wants to talk to them then there's not a lot I can do to stop him. What I do know is that he wants to stay at this club. He is one of the most honourable men I have ever met and he has given me promises that I know he will keep."

With Leeds likely to double O'Neill's pounds 350,000-a-year deal with Leicester - which has two years to run - City's hopes rest on offering him sufficient cash to dip into the transfer market and strengthen the side.

The fate of the West Ham striker John Hartson will be decided by the Football Association next week following the delivery to Lancaster Gate yesterday of a videotape showing his attack on team-mate Eyal Berkovic at the club's Chadwell Heath training ground.

"We received the videotape today and we anticipate a decision on that next week some time," an FA spokesman, Steve Double, said yesterday.

Uefa, the governing body of European football, yesterday ordered Yugoslav clubs to play their home ties in European competition at neutral venues because of a threat of air strikes on Yugoslavia: "Due to the political situation in Yugoslavia and the subsequent effects at international level, security risks in the country have reached limits which, at present, do no longer justify the staging of Uefa competition matches," Uefa said in a statement.

Zvezda have been given until Monday to tell Uefa at which venue their Uefa Cup second-round, first-leg match against Olympique Lyonnais, of France, on 20 October will be held. Partizan Belgrade's Cup-Winners' Cup second-round, second-leg match against Italy's Lazio on 5 November is also affected.

Hearts will decide this morning at a Tynecastle board meeting whether to appeal against Uefa's rejection of their protest at Real Mallorca using non-regulation size goalposts for the Scottish side's 1-1 draw in a Cup- Winners' Cup first-round, second-leg match. Hearts went out 2-1 on aggregate.

The Bolton striker Peter Beardsley has snubbed a player-coach job at Third Division Carlisle to sign a third month-long loan deal at Fulham. The former England international, 37, has been at Craven Cottage with his ex-Newcastle manager, Kevin Keegan, since the last three months of last season.

Carlisle owner Michael Knighton, who has been chasing the player for almost a year, had held the post open for him until this weekend, but Beardsley will not now take up the offer at Brunton Park where he started his career.

Beardsley moved from Newcastle to Bolton for pounds 500,000 in the summer of 1997 but failed to make an impression on the first team and the Bolton manager, Colin Todd, has given him a free transfer.

The Crewe Alexandra keeper Jason Kearton has signed a new three-year contract. The Australian, 29, joined the Gresty Road club from Everton on a free transfer in October 1996 and has established himself as the first-choice keeper.

Francois Omam-Biyik, the Cameroon World Cup striker, is having trials with Spanish third division side Getafe, the club said yesterday.

Omam-Biyik shot to fame by scoring the only goal of the opening game of the 1990 World Cup when Cameroon defeated Argentina 1-0. He played in all three of Cameroon's games in this summer's World Cup in France, his third World Cup, and currently has a strike rate of 50 goals in 76 internationals.

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