Football: McCarthy eludes Barnsley

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BARNSLEY'S QUEST to bring the Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy, to Oakwell is on the verge of collapse over a compensation dispute.

McCarthy, a hero at Oakwell as a player, is the man Barnsley want to replace John Hendrie as their manager. He was keen to bring his assistant Ian Evans, another former Barnsley player, with him as part of the package, but the Football Association of Ireland has asked for around pounds 500,000 in compensation for both McCarthy and Evans.

Barnsley are unwilling to pay such a sum for a new management team and have started to look for alternatives. McCarthy was keen to help Barnsley and was interested in a joint role with both club and country, but the First Division team are insisting on a full-time appointment.

The Everton manager, Walter Smith, is trying to sign the winger Lee Sharpe from Leeds United in a pounds 1m deal. The former Manchester United player is currently on loan at Bradford City and is keen to leave Leeds permanently.

Newcastle United have been linked with Marcelino, Real Mallorca's Spanish international centre-back. The Magpies' manager, Ruud Gullit, has made a pounds 6m bid for the 28-year-old, according to reports in the Spanish media.

Real Madrid and Juventus have begun negotiations that could see Clarence Seedorf and Zinedine Zidane swap clubs. The Spanish side are desperate to sign Zidane, France's World Cup hero, and could let Seedorf, their Dutch midfielder, move to Italy as part of the deal. Real are also prepared to part with their Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos and their Yugoslav striker Predrag Mijatovic to secure Zidane.

Zidane plus three Manchester United players, David Beckham, Dwight Yorke and Ryan Giggs, are all part of a Fifa All-Star squad which has been selected to play Australia to open the new Olympic stadium in Sydney on 12 June.

Manchester United's latest international Wes Brown, who made his senior England debut in Hungary on Wednesday, has been rewarded for a successful season at Old Trafford with a new five-year contract.

The Charlton defender Richard Rufus has escaped a four-match suspension following his recent red card against Leeds. He was brought before a Football Association disciplinary commission for alleged violent conduct but, after viewing video evidence, the panel judged that no further action was warranted and lifted the suspension.

Leeds' former Charlton midfielder Lee Bowyer also escaped a suspension: he was warned about his future conduct and fined pounds 750 after picking up 11 bookings this season.

The wages of Premiership players increased by 40 per cent last season, according to estimates published by the accountants Deloitte & Touche.

The total wage bill for the Premiership in the 1997-98 season was three- and-a-half times higher than in 1992-93. The best-paying club were Chelsea, with a wage and salary bill for last season of nearly pounds 27m, followed by Manchester United with pounds 26.9m, Liverpool with pounds 24.1m and Newcastle United with pounds 22.3m.