Football: Liverpool in late bid for Poborsky

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The Independent Online
Flights from the North-west to Prague have never been so popular as Manchester United and Liverpool, long-time bitter rivals on the pitch, fight at the negotiating table for the signature of the pounds 3.4m-rated Karel Poborsky.

The Slavia Prague manager, Jaromir Seterle, will meet Liverpool officials today and a United delegation tomorrow as the race hots up for the 24- year-old Slavia Prague midfielder, who played a crucial role in the Czech Republic's advance to the final of Euro 96.

Slavia are in no hurry to part with Poborsky, who still has two years of his contract to run, as they finalise their preparations for a European Cup campaign. However, money talks, especially in the Czech Republic, and it is understood Poborsky will leave.

United have long been favourites to snap him up, but Liverpool - having failed to tempt Patrik Berger, Poborsky's Czech team-mate, from Borussia Dortmund - made an unannounced appearance in Prague on Sunday in a bold attempt to prise the player from under United's noses.

Maurice Watkins, United's legal director had flown home the day before fully expecting to conclude a deal this week.

Liverpool are seeking advice from the Government, RUC and security forces before going ahead with pre-season games against Dundalk and the Belfast- based Linfield. Celtic have already cancelled their game against Dundalk and Manchester United are also reconsidering playing Portadown.

Blackburn Rovers could be about to show Alan Shearer that they mean business in the Premiership next season by making a pounds 5m offer for Nick Barmby, the England midfielder, who faces strong competition at Middlesbrough with the arrival of Italy's Fabrizio Ravanelli and the Brazilian Emerson. Barmby at Blackburn is seen as a counter to Manchester United's attempts to unsettle the pounds 12m-rated Shearer.

Tranmere Rovers are looking for a pounds 1.2m fee for the defender Tony Thomas, who has joined Tottenham on a month's loan. Thomas, a right-back, has been out of contract for 16 months and is eager to play in the higher divisions.

"We would be looking for a substantial fee for him," Frank Corfe, the Tranmere chairman, said. "I will be speaking to Alan Sugar during the coming weeks and if Spurs do decide to step up their interest, I know neither would wish to see the matter go to arbitration."

Peter Shilton is to team up with his former England and Nottingham Forest colleague, Trevor Francis, at Birmingham City as goalkeeping coach. Francis has also appointed Bob Latchford, the former Blues favourite, as youth development officer. The ex-England striker scored 68 goals in 160 League appearances between 1968-73.

The Football League and the Professional Footballers' Association are to meet tomorrow as the dispute over television funding escalates.

The League are being taken to task on two counts and 1,500 players from 72 clubs could be affected as the threat of a players' strike grows.

Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, is now asking the League for what he says is TV money owed in back payments, believed to be around pounds 1.5m. The union has already demanded a 10 per cent cut of the new pounds 25m Sky TV deal.