Football: Robson moves for striker Litmanen

BRYAN ROBSON, the Middlesbrough manager, is attempting to lure Ajax's Finnish striker Jari Litmanen to Middlesbrough, writes Alan Nixon.

Robson has approached Litmanen's advisors about either buying him now or picking him up at the end of the season when his contract runs out and he can move for nothing.

Middlesbrough are willing to pay a transfer fee of around pounds 2m to bring the 27-year-old to The Riverside soon, which is an attractive proposition for the Dutch club. Ajax are in the Champions' League but if they go out at the qualifying stages a sale could be arranged within the next six weeks.

Slaven Bilic is likely to become the biggest casualty of the cost- cutting purge by Everton's manager Walter Smith. The Croatian defender can leave for around pounds 3m with Roma already making inquiries.

Bilic has not yet played for Smith because of a calf injury he picked up in the World Cup finals, in which his country finished third. The manager is happy with the defenders he has signed, Marco Materazzi and David Unsworth, and Bilic is unlikely to regain his place.

Rather than keep Bilic in the reserves, Smith is prepared to let him leave for less than the pounds 4.25m paid to West Ham over a year ago.

Everton have spent heavily on players since Smith's arrival valued at over pounds 20m. Many of those deals are made up of staged payments, but there is no money left for more new signings.

John Toshack, the coach of Besiktas, is close to resigning because of a row with the club's directors. "I'm ready to throw in the towel, about to give up. Instead of doing their job, the directors are making statements on television and to the newspapers," the Anatolian news agency quoted Toshack as saying.

The former Wales striker is unhappy with directors announcing hefty fines on leading Besiktas players before tomorrow's European Cup-Winners' Cup second round game with Norway's Valarenga and a weekend Istanbul derby with Fenerbahce.

The Football Association has unveiled a new draft code of conduct designed to be a "benchmark for behaviour" in the game - yet admits that there are no powers to enforce it.

It calls for football to take community feeling into account when making decisions, to set a positive example to young people, to wipe out corruption and to reject violence and discrimination. Yet the code is meant to run alongside existing disciplinary rules, which can lead to misconduct hearings, and there are no penalties for breaking it.

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