Football: O'Leary refuses to increase bid for Bridges

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The Independent Online
LEEDS UNITED will not increase their offer for the Sunderland striker Michael Bridges, believed to be pounds 4m.

The Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale, after discussions with his manager David O'Leary, said: "We have made what we believe to be a realistic offer and we won't be increasing it. The next move will have to come from Sunderland."

Bridges, who has been withdrawn from Sunderland's pre-season tour, has been linked with a move to Elland Road, but Tottenham and Aston Villa are also thought to be interested in the England Under-21 man. Leeds did have some good news yesterday: their Australian international striker Harry Kewell has signed a new four-year contract.

The Everton defender Marco Materazzi is expected to complete his return to Italy with Perugia this week. Officials from the Serie A club are close to finalising a deal which would take the 25-year-old back to the club he left last summer.

Celtic are set to conclude the pounds 1.25m signing of the French Under-21 international defender Olivier Tebily from Sheffield United today.

The Wimbledon winger Mark Kennedy will discuss personal terms with Manchester City today, after the two clubs agreed a pounds 1.5m fee for the Republic of Ireland international.

Watford have signed the Chesterfield centre-back Mark Williams on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling. The Premiership newcomers have also held talks with the Nottingham Forest defender Des Lyttle, whose contract expired last week.

The Bradford City striker Robbie Blake has rejected a new five-year contract with the West Yorkshire club. His current deal still has two years to run, though. The Bantams have also been linked with a pounds 1m move for the Chelsea full-back Andy Myers.

Gillingham have unveiled the former England Under-21 coach Peter Taylor as their new manager. He takes over just a week after the Gills sacked Tony Pulis, who has since taken over as manager of their Second Division rivals Bristol City. The club captain Andy Hessenthaler has been appointed player-coach under Taylor, while the former Gills striker Steve Butler returns to Priestfield as a member of the coaching staff.

As well as pushing back the date of next year's vote to decide which country hosts the 2006 World Cup by four months to July, world football's ruling body Fifa has also announced that Europe would be giving up half a place at the next finals in 2002 and handing it to Asia, which is jointly hosting the tournament.

Europe, which had 15 places at France 98, will have 14 automatic berths at the 2002 event in Japan and South Korea. A European country will play off with Asia for the last qualifying position.

Asia was originally granted four places for the 2002 finals, the same number it had in France. But because it is jointly hosting the next tournament, it wanted one more full berth, making five in all. Fifa has compromised and given the Asians four and a half. The details of the qualification procedure for the tournament have not been announced.