Football: McAvoy resigns at Palace and warns Goldberg

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The Independent Online
THE CRISIS at Crystal Palace deepened last night when Jim McAvoy, their former chief executive, resigned from the board and called for the chairman, Mark Goldberg, to reduce his stake in the club.

The Palace board is due to meet today amid reports that the First Division club may have to apply for a court order to call in the administrators. A worsening financial crisis following Goldberg's pounds 23m purchase of the club from Ron Noades last summer saw staff fail to receive their wages last week. There has been speculation that Noades may return to Selhurst Park for a fraction of the sum which he received last summer.

McAvoy, who is heading the consortium fronted by Kenny Dalglish and Jim Kerr that is aiming to take over Celtic, said: "There is an urgent need for investment and what is now needed is for all parties to work towards a solution that would be in the best interests of the club.

"I have spoken to Mark about him substantially reducing his stake and I would hope that he sees this as a necessary part of the restructuring of the club's finances. Palace still have a great future but the club urgently need to be in strong hands."

David O'Leary is poised to sign a new five-year contract with Leeds United and he has set his sights on the Yorkshire club becoming a force to rival Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

O'Leary said that the Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, had offered him the new deal last week and insisted: "I would love to stay and there are no problems with signing the contract from my point of view."

The Football Association has accepted Paolo Di Canio's excuse for missing a meeting with its compliance officer, Graham Bean. The West Ham striker was due to meet Bean, the FA's "sleaze buster", yesterday to discuss his recent outburst against the referee Paul Alcock, but has instead returned home to Italy to visit a sick relative.

Di Canio accused Alcock of feigning stress since being pushed to the ground by the Italian during a match in September. However, the FA has accepted Di Canio's reason for missing the meeting, which has been rescheduled for next week.

Olivier Dacourt, the Everton midfielder, has been suspended for two games including the FA Cup quarter-final tie at Newcastle on Sunday, and fined pounds 1,000 for reaching 11 bookings this season.

Emile Heskey, Leicester City's striker, is to see a specialist to determine the extent of his long-term back trouble.

David Batty came through his comeback match for Leeds in a reserve game at Derby last night. It was the England midfielder's first outing since he cracked a rib in December.

Last night's football, page 25