Football: O'Neill to remain despite board's wrangles

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The Independent Online
MARTIN O'NEILL is staying as Leicester City's manager - but the long-term future of the club is still up in the air.

O'Neill revealed yesterday that he will not quit Filbert Street in the wake of the boardroom power struggle which has seen the chief executive, Barrie Pierpoint, insist that the club chairman, John Elsom, and the plc chairman Sir Rodney Walker - both allies of the manager - had resigned.

Elsom and Sir Rodney are adamant they did not quit at a meeting last Friday but, with four members of the board - Pierpoint and the directors Roy Parker, Gilbert Kinch and Philip Smith - not recognising their authority, the situation is nothing short of farcical.

O'Neill acknowledged yesterday that the issue must be brought to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as possible, but he also demonstrated again whose side he is on. He refused to be drawn over whether he would like to work under Pierpoint, his long-standing adversary, and he said: "I would prefer it if Mr Elsom stayed as the chairman of the football club and Sir Rodney Walker continued as chairman of the plc. I've worked with three chairman in four years and I didn't envisage working for another one as quickly as this.

"I didn't see any reason to resign. I think I've worked hard here and I didn't want to give that up. To me it's not a resignation matter. Resignation had not really crossed my mind." Sir Rodney is to have talks with the "rebel" directors.

The Manchester United defender Ronnie Wallwork has escaped a life ban after a Belgian court reduced his sentence for manhandling a referee.

Wallwork's punishment has been cut to a three-year ban, two of which will be suspended. The remaining year's ban will only apply in Belgium, leaving him free to play in England or elsewhere. United's Danny Higginbotham, who had been banned for one year for his part in the fracas, has had his sentence cut to four months. The defender will be free to play again from 26 September.

Wallwork and Higginbotham were on loan at Royal Antwerp when the incident happened at the end of a Belgian Second Division play-off match at the end of last season.

West Bromwich Albion have completed the signing of the Middlesbrough midfielder Andy Townsend. The 36-year-old former Republic of Ireland captain, who played under the Baggies' manager Brian Little at Aston Villa, has moved to The Hawthorns for a nominal fee and has signed a contract until the end of next season. He joins the Icelandic international defender Larus Sigurdsson, who has signed a three-year deal after moving from Stoke City for around pounds 350,000.

The Nottingham Forest midfielder Carlton Palmer has joined Coventry City on a three-month loan with a view to a permanent pounds 500,000 move to Highfield Road. The 33-year-old former England international, who had been expected to rejoin his former club Sheffield Wednesday, will not be able to make his debut at Tottenham tomorrow, however, as the transfer forms did not reach the Premier League by yesterday's noon deadline. Coventry are blaming Forest for the delay and are threatening to take legal action.

Graham Taylor has signed a new three-year deal as manager of Watford, but there was no new job yesterday for another former England manager. Glenn Hoddle had been linked with the vacancy at Reading caused by Thursday's dismissal of Tommy Burns, but yesterday the Second Division strugglers confirmed that Alan Pardew will take care of team selection on a caretaker basis.

Pardew will be assisted by the former England No 2, John Gorman - hence the rumours linking Hoddle with the manager's job at Reading. The club's chairman, John Madejski, said that the former England manager is welcome to apply for the position.

"We will be pleased to hear from Glenn in exactly the same way as we will be pleased to hear from anybody else interested in the job," Madejski said. "But we are not approaching anybody." Mark McGhee, a former Reading manager, has also been linked with the job.

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