Football: Sharpe signs for Sampdoria to end Elland Road nightmare

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LEE SHARPE yesterday became David Platt's first signing as Sampdoria manager when he joined the Italian club on loan for the rest of the season.

The Leeds winger, put on the transfer list by the Elland Road manager, David O'Leary, last year, has moved to the Serie A club with a view to a permanent transfer. A United spokeswoman confirmed: "Lee Sharpe flew out to Italy today and has joined Sampdoria on loan."

Sharpe, a former England international, together with Tomas Brolin, was the Yorkshire club's record signing, costing the then manager, Howard Wilkinson, pounds 4.5m when he moved from Manchester United in 1996. However, a serious knee injury set him back and even when he was fit, he fell out of favour with George Graham and then O'Leary. He has made three starts for Leeds this season, the last against Roma in the Uefa Cup on 3 November.

The Nottingham Forest chief executive, Phil Soar, has dismissed speculation that Ron Atkinson, the former Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday manager, is poised to take over as manager at the City Ground. Dave Bassett's future as the Forest manager is uncertain - the club have gone a record 17 Premier League games without a win and crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of Portsmouth on Saturday.

Atkinson's name has been linked with a possible return to management with Forest, but Soar said: "As far as I'm concerned the manager's position remains unchanged. I know nothing about Ron Atkinson."

The Everton manager, Walter Smith, is ready to raid his former Glasgow opponents, Celtic, for the striker Simon Donnelly. The former Rangers manager is poised to open discussions with Donnelly to talk him into joining the Merseysiders either now or in the summer.

Smith could offer a nominal fee to Celtic for Donnelly of around pounds 300,000 to sign him or wait until he is a free agent at the end of the season. Donnelly has rejected a new contract at Celtic and has been linked with Monaco, but a move to Everton is more likely.

ITV were yesterday unrepentant in the face of criticism from leading managers about the timing of the fourth round draw for the FA Cup. Sheffield Wednesday's Danny Wilson and Bruce Rioch, of Norwich, complained after the draw was staged at 4pm on Sunday, while the round three tie between their two sides was still taking place.

However, Carol Millward, of ITV, insisted the channel was well within its rights to hold it immediately after the Port Vale-Liverpool tie, which was screened live by the channel.

"We have a contractual agreement with the FA to show the draw and it made absolute sense that we show the draw at the end of our match, when the highest number of football fans are watching," she said.

"The FA were happy with the choice of slot. It was agreed with them that we would do it at that time and from a television point of view, it's the most obvious time to do the draw."

The former Crystal Palace midfielder Darren Pitcher is taking legal action against Huddersfield and defender Paul Reid, who has left the club. The Terriers, who have had a writ served on them by solicitors acting for Pitcher, insist they will defend any action.

The lawsuit has been filed after a challenge between the players in the match at the McAlpine Stadium on 31 August 31, 1996, which left Pitcher with damaged cruciate ligaments.

Two months ago, the Bradford striker Gordon Watson won a High Court claim for negligence against Huddersfield and their defender Kevin Gray after he suffered a broken leg in a First Division match.