Football: Palace let Roberts go to Wimbledon

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THE idea that Crystal Palace have given up the ghost on staying in the Premiership gained a certain amount of credence yesterday when they announced the sale of Andy Roberts to Wimbledon for pounds 1.6m.

The Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear, tried to sign the former England Under-21 international three seasons ago from Millwall, though his limited budget meant he could not match the pounds 2.5m Palace were prepared to spend.

"One of the great things about Andy is that he's so versatile and can play in midfield as well as the back and as far as I'm concerned it's a great buy for the future," Kinnear said.

David Gold, the Birmingham City co-owner, said yesterday that the support Trevor Francis had received since he resigned as manager on Saturday could make him change his mind.

Francis resigned after the game against Queens Park Rangers when his teenage son, Matthew, was abused by some supporters. He will meet with the St Andrews board today to discuss the situation.

Francis said that the abuse of his son was not the only reason for his unhappiness. He was angered by the decision taken by the club's commercial department to allocate the players' lounge to sponsors.

The Professional Footballers' Association is to try to bring Aston Villa's Stan Collymore and Steve Harkness of Liverpool together in an attempt to resolve their racism row.

"We've been in touch with both sides and are hoping to get the two players together next week as quickly as possibly to try and resolve what is an unsatisfactory dispute," Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, said.

Collymore claimed he was racially abused by Harkness after the 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Villa Park a week ago. Harkness has denied the allegation.

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