Football: Newcastle join the chase for Dublin

DION DUBLIN'S move to Blackburn Rovers ran into trouble last night with Newcastle United joining the chase.

The Rovers manager, Roy Hodgson, thought he was close to a deal after agreeing a fee of pounds 6.75m with Coventry for the unsettled striker. However, as Hodgson discussed personal terms with Dublin's agent yesterday, Newcastle came in and asked to be kept fully informed of developments.

The Newcastle manager, Ruud Gullit, is in the market for a powerful strike partner for Alan Shearer and is in talks with his board about how much money he has to spend. Ironically, Newcastle's interest may push the transfer fee down rather than up, as Blackburn have overbid for the player.

Dublin has a clause in his new contract stating that he can leave for pounds 5m, information Blackburn were not aware of when they tabled their offer.

Newcastle will only offer the minimum transfer fee of pounds 5m and hope to beat Blackburn in a pay war for Dublin's services. The former Cambridge and Manchester United player is said to earn pounds 1m a year at Coventry, a figure that Rovers will not match at the risk of upsetting a volatile dressing-room.

Rovers' offer to Dublin will be about pounds 15,000 a week, although signing-on fees would be added to that figure.

The transfer tug-of-war began yesterday when Dublin pulled out of Coventry's match at Luton, which they lost 2-0, despite a threat from his manager, Gordon Strachan, to fine him two weeks' wages, a sum of about pounds 40,000. Last night Coventry were believed to be lining up Bolton's Nathan Blake as a replacement. Blake would cost them a pounds 2m initial payment with another pounds 1m after a certain number of first- team appearances.

Arsene Wenger , the Arsenal manager, has criticised Chris Sutton for his two-footed lunge on the Gunners' midfielder Patrick Vieira - a challenge that earned the Blackburn striker a red card at Ewood Park on Sunday. Sutton has claimed he was provoked into retaliation because the Frenchman broke his nose with an elbow earlier in the game. Wenger said: "I could understand him being upset his nose was broken but with the kind of game Chris Sutton plays he must expect this at some stage." Sutton claims Vieira "smiled at me" after the incident and is convinced the Frenchman intended to injure him.

John Ward last night quit Bristol City after 18 months in charge at the First Division club. Ward, who steered the Ashton Gate side to promotion last season, is thought to have been unhappy over the responsibilities given to the new, and as yet unnamed, director of coaching, and City agreed to release him from his contract. The new man is expected to be named today.

The Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association (IMUSA) said yesterday it was confident BSkyB's attempt to buy the club would fail. BSkyB needs the support of shareholders controlling more than 50 per cent of the company, but announced the figure reached so far stood at under 45 per cent. Nevertheless that is a higher figure than some City observers expected at this stage since the Monopolies and Mergers Commission has yet to give its view of the proposed deal.

BSkyB announced backing for its pounds 623m bid for United from shareholders controlling some 44.6 per cent of the company, including the United board, which has agreed to sell its 16 per cent holding. BSkyB's offer to shareholders has now been extended, until 3 November, as is standard practice. IMUSA representatives and about 150 football supporters from a variety of clubs lobbied Parliament yesterday to seek support from politicians opposed to the move.

The Manchester City manager, Joe Royle, is considering moves for two foreign players: the Finnish Under-21 centre-back Toni Pervonen and the French midfielder Laurent Silvestre. Both Pervonen and Silvestre played for City's reserves last night as Royle looks to build up his squad using the proceeds from the sale of Lee Bradbury to Crystal Palace.

Chester City yesterday survived liquidation when a High Court Judge ordered administrators to take over the Third Division club. Judge Nigel Howarth dismissed a winding-up order at the High Court in Manchester after hearing how creditors would be left with "absolutely nothing" unless the club continued.

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