Football: Sorry City fail to find successor to Swales: McDonald on hold

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THE long-running saga of boardroom turmoil at Manchester City shows no signs of ending. The Maine Road directors met for several hours yesterday but were unable to reveal a successor to Peter Swales, who announced his intention to step down as chairman two weeks ago.

It had been expected that Michael McDonald, a local scrap-metal dealer, would become the new man in charge, with his consortium obtaining a controlling interest for about pounds 8m. However, the meeting broke up with no decision reached.

The City directors will meet again over the weekend to discuss the addition of two or three more board members next month - while the resignation of Swales was formally accepted at a meeting at his home.

When the board meeting reconvenes, decisions will be needed on whether McDonald and his allies should become major shareholders - and / or whether the former City player, Francis Lee, and his consortium should be invited to secure a major stake in the club. There is also the possibility of a boardroom role being found for McDonald without him having a big shareholding.

The beleaguered Brian Horton, the City manager, whose side have gained just one win in 10 matches, has more pressing problems to deal with. 'We are just chucking games away,' he said. 'I am expecting a bit more passion. We face a dog fight now. It will be a long, hard season for us and we must be positive.'

Another troubled club, Barnet, have a new man at the helm. David Buchler, who was involved in the rescue package which saved Tottenham Hotspur two years ago, has taken over the Second Division's bottom club after an agreement was reached yesterday to end legal wranglings between the former chairman, Stephen Glynne, and vice- chairman, Ricky George, and hand over control to Buchler.

'It is my intention to try and take the club away from all the internal politics and concentrate on what is important - results on the pitch,' Buchler said.

Up the M1, the directors at Luton Town have agreed to meet a consortium headed by John Mitchell, the former Fulham player, and David Ellingham, which has made a takeover bid for the First Division club.

Gary Mabbutt, the Tottenham defender, has been told by the Football Association that he is under no obligation to attend Thursday's Commission of Inquiry into the facial injuries he suffered in an incident involving Wimbledon's John Fashanu in a Premiership match at White Hart Lane last month.

'We are not forcing Mabbutt to come,' a spokesman for the FA said. 'It was the club who lodged the complaint, not Mabbutt, and we are leaving it to them to decide who attends.' The FA is assuming that Fashanu will be there.

Barry Fry, the new Birmingham City manager, has paid Peterborough pounds 325,000 for their goalkeeper, Ian Bennett, and taken the left-back Gary Cooper from the same source without a fee. Fry also signed the midfielder, Kenny Lowe, from Stoke, and the defender, Dave Barnett, from Barnet, both on loan. Chelsea's Scottish international striker, Robert Fleck, has joined Bolton on loan.

Aime Jacquet, a former coach of Bordeaux, is the new coach of the French national team. He had been the deputy to Gerard Houllier, who resigned last month.

Football Diary, Team news, page 24