Football: Millichip green light clears way for Venables: Chairman of the Football Association expects former Spurs chief executive to be new England manager by the end of the week

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TERRY VENABLES is expected to be installed as England's new manager by the end of the week after receiving a glowing endorsement last night from the chairman of the Football Association, Sir Bert Millichip.

The man with the most powerful voice in the decision-making process will be 'terribly disappointed' if Venables is not in place in time for the European Championship draw in Manchester on Saturday. 'That would be a tremendous publicity coup,' he said.

Millichip is known to have been seriously concerned by the allegations of business malpractice levelled against Venables in the wake of his acrimonious dismissal as chief executive of Tottenham Hotspur, but all reservations had disappeared last night when he said: 'I always felt that Terry Venables was the best coach in English football.'

Millichip said of the allegations: 'I am indeed concerned. If the media will lay these accusations, with the suggestion that there is evidence to substantiate them, we would be lacking in our duty if we did not investigate them.

'This we have been doing. Nothing has come to light at all as far as I am aware. There has been no proof supplied in any shape or form. We are investigating all the allegations made within the limit of our powers, and we have discovered nothing.'

There may still be one or two hurdles for Venables to clear. The Premier League inquiry into Tottenham's affairs has yet to be completed and has a meeting with Alan Sugar, the Spurs chairman, planned for Tuesday. There is also, a winding-up order against a London restaurant and club run by Venables which is listed for hearing at the High Court today. However, it appears that an inquiry by the Serious Fraud Office into some of Venables' financial dealing has cleared him.

Millichip insisted that talk of a straight fight between Venables and one of his proteges, Gerry Francis of Queen's Park Rangers, was wide of the mark. 'Terry is the only person we have interviewed, and as far as I am concerned, he is the only person who will be interviewed.

'There are just one or two loose ends upon which we have been wanting satisfaction and I would hope that those are going to be cleared. And if I am satisfied, I am fairly certain it will satisfy the other members of the committee. We hope to have him in charge by the weekend.'

Venables, for whom the appointment will be the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition, is unlikely to quibble about the terms of the four-year contract on offer, worth minimally pounds 800,000. His first match as England's manager will be the friendly against Denmark, the European champions, at Wembley on 9 March.

The midfielder Paul Stewart, currently out of Liverpool's first team, last night turned down a temporary transfer to Tranmere Rovers and will instead start a month's loan today with their First Division promotion rivals Crystal Palace.