Football: The quest for Keane begins

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The Independent Online
ROY KEANE put himself on the transfer market yesterday and kicked open the door to a queue of potential buyers. The Nottingham Forest midfield man told his new manager, Frank Clark, that after the club's relegation he would exercise the release clause in his contract.

Keane is not short of admirers, both at home and abroad, willing to meet a multi-million-pound valuation. The Italian club, Sampdoria, are willing to pay pounds 7m while, from Spain, Real Madrid and Seville will be rival bidders.

Domestically, the 22-year-old can choose from Manchester United, Blackburn, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Tottenham, if they can interest Clark in an exchange deal involving Gary Mabbutt and Vinny Samways.

Keane, the subject of a typical piece of transfer larceny by Brian Clough when signed from the Irish side, Cobh Rangers, for pounds 10,000 three years ago, will weigh up the offers during next week's break from World Cup commitments with the Republic of Ireland.

'Obviously it's very sad to be leaving Forest because they gave me my chance, but there was no way I wanted to play in the First Division even for one season,' he said. 'If Forest can get a fair bit of money for me and spend it wisely, they should be able to bounce straight back into the Premier League.'

Clark, who could also see Nigel Clough, wanted by Liverpool, and his captain, Stuart Pearce, leave the City Ground, said: 'I always thought this was inevitable but it's still very disappointing, because I would have liked the opportunity to work with a player of his calibre.'

The Scottish League will comprise 40 teams in four divisions for the start of the 1994/95 season, after its annual meeting yesterday voted to do away with the existing structure and reduce the League programme from 44 to 36 games.

It also allows for the introduction of two new clubs for the first time in 20 years, with teams from the Highland League such as Caledonian, Inverness Thistle and Elgin likely to be strong contenders.

Intriguingly, the vote for change hinged on a renegade Raith Rovers director, Bob Paxton, who went against the wishes of his board by voting for the new set-up. 'It was a suicidal thing to do, but I did it for the betterment of Scottish football,' he said.

Barnsley want the Sheffield Wednesday defender, Viv Anderson, as player-manager to succeed Mel Machin, and also want his team-mate, Danny Wilson, to become player- coach. Both players' Hillsborough contracts expire this summer and although the 36-year-old Anderson has agreed a new deal it is thought the Wednesday manager, Trevor Francis, will look sympathetically on any opportunity for the former England full- back to move into management.

If he takes charge at Oakwell, Anderson will become England's third black manager - after Keith Alexander at Lincoln City and Ed Stein at Barnet, both appointed within the last fortnight.