Football: Townsend bid rejected

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Aston Villa have rejected a pounds 700,000 bid from Celtic for their 33-year- old Republic of Ireland captain Andy Townsend.

Brian Little, the Villa manager, said: "We have received a bid from Celtic. It was done between the two chairmen, but I don't want any of my first team players to leave. If Celtic come back with a new and improved offer I shall tell them to up it and then say no again."

Villa's right-back Fernando Nelson has received a late call-up to the Portugal squad for tomorrow's World Cup qualifying match against Germany in Lisbon. Nelson, 25, has been capped five times.

George Graham, the Leeds manager, yesterday informed Tony Yeboah that he wants the Ghananian striker to remain at Elland Road. Yeboah has complained at his lack of first-team opportunities since his recent return from injury.

"I told him that if he has problems he should come and see me in my office, not go running to the papers," Graham said. "The club is on the up and up and this is a kick in the teeth. But the team spirit is fantastic and we will not let this outburst spoil it."

Manchester United are to leave The Cliff in Broughton next season and move to a new training ground in the south-west of the city, subject to planning permission. The new complex will cost around pounds 10m.

Manchester City have released Michael Frontzeck. They have retained his registration, however, and will expect a fee if the German international full-back finds another club.

Newcastle's Keith Gillespie has pulled out of Northern Ireland's squad for tomorrow's World Cup game against Albania in Belfast with a groin injury.

Southampton have won approval to build a pounds 35m all-seater stadium on the outskirts of the city. The Saints, who are to be floated on the Stock Exchange, have fought a six-year battle for permission to build the 25,000 stadium at Stoneham.

The Football Association, who this week docked Brighton two points for crowd disturbances, yesterday urged fans to stop their campaign of disruption and give peace talks a chance.

"Supporters of Brighton are being urged to give a team of professional mediators the best chance to find a settlement to the club's internal problems," the FA statement said.

George Petchey, Brighton's 65-year-old caretaker manager, has been sacked following the appointment of Steve Gritt as the new manager.

The FA is to ask the National Lottery to help fund the pounds 7-pounds 10m cost of bidding for the 2006 World Cup. Staging the finals could cost up to pounds 300m.

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