Football: Premier League ponders new deal

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The Independent Online
The FA Carling Premiership could have a new name next season - and it will certainly have a lucrative new sponsorship deal.

The elite clubs are looking to treble their money when the pounds 12m four- year deal with Bass Brewers expires at the end of the season. Carling are understood to have offered around pounds 38m for a new five-year deal but Premiership officials are waiting to see if anyone else comes in with a better offer. They believe the status and prestige of their league has soared since the original deal and want to cash in.

However, the Premiership will be happy to retain the Carling branding if the brewers match the increased valuation.

"Talk of a `bust-up' is silly," a Premiership spokesman, Mike Lee, said. "Naturally when contracts come towards an end there is always speculation. The existing deal with our sponsors is still in place, and any new contract will be subject to discussion and negotiation."

Manchester City have signed the 25-year-old former Arsenal winger Neil Heaney for pounds 500,000 from Southampton. "His former manager, Alan Ball, had recommended him initially, saying he was a real flier and the sort of player that can lift us to the promotion places," City's chairman, Francis Lee, said.

Birmingham City have had a player-plus-money bid to sign the Peterborough United midfielder, Martin O'Connor, turned down by the Second Division club. Trevor Francis, the Birmingham manager, offered his St Andrews predecessor Barry Fry pounds 300,000 plus the transfer-listed City players Louie Donowa, Andy Edwards and Steve Castle for 28-year-old O'Connor.

However, Fry, Peterborough's manager and owner, is holding out for a straight pounds 1m cash deal to try and ease the financial crisis at London Road. Peterborough are pounds 2.5m in debt and Fry said: "While I would like the Birmingham players, if I signed some of them the bank manager would kill me."

The Football Association has confirmed that Coventry's Liam Daish was not booked twice by referee Paul Durkin during Saturday's defeat to Aston Villa, despite suggestions by callers to David Mellor's BBC Radio Five Live Six-O-Six programme.

Villa are hoping to have Dwight Yorke back from international duty in time to appear in tomorrow's Coca-Cola Cup tie at Wimbledon. Yorke played for Trinidad and Tobago in last night's 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to the United States in Port-of-Spain.

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