Football: Part-time role for Venables

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The Independent Online
TERRY VENABLES stepped down as manager of Crystal Palace last night as the First Division club finally reached agreement on his future. The former England coach is to be retained as a part-time consultant and Steve Coppell, the club's director of football, has taken charge of team affairs.

Last night's decision came after another day of talks following the decision by Mark Goldberg, the chairman, to renegotiate Venables' contract. In the light of Palace's worsening financial situation, Goldberg had decided that he could no longer afford the pounds 750,000 a year deal which he had agreed with Venables last summer.

However, it is understood that Goldberg could not afford to dismiss Venables because of severance clauses in his contract. The two men reached agreement on a new deal yesterday, which was approved by Palace's board of directors last night.

Venables said: "We found ourselves in an impossible situation and, after a lot of very amicable talking, it became clear that it may even be beneficial to Crystal Palace for us to part company. But I have decided to give as much help and assistance as I can - with the full backing of the club - to Mark in his determination to make it work and to get Crystal Palace back in the Premier League."

Goldberg said: "It has been a difficult decision to make but Terry accepts the situation. Both the club and Terry have been working to secure the long-term future of Crystal Palace and I am glad that we have been able to reach an agreement whereby Terry remains at the club and where he will continue to make a valued contribution."

While the talks have been going on the Palace players have had to prepare for today's match at home to Stockport County. Coppell took first-team training for the second day in succession yesterday and will be in charge of the side today, but it is not clear whether he will be offered the manager's job permanenently or indeed whether he would accept such an offer.

Palace's precarious financial situation is such that some of their best players are expected to be sold, though the club said yesterday that Matt Jansen, Attilio Lombardo and Sasa Curcic would all be in today's squad. However, it was reported elsewhere that Lombardo had returned to Italy.

One player who will not be appearing today is Marcus Bent, who was sold yesterday to Port Vale for pounds 375,000. Palace will also be without four players due to suspension, Sun Jihai, Andy Linighan, Craig Foster and Hayden Mullins.

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