Football: Venables accepts FA's terms to manage England: Former Spurs chief executive agrees two and a half year contract

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The Independent Online
IT TOOK them more than two months to pick their way through what was variously described as a legal minefield or a financial morass, but the Football Association got there in the end last night, when it was confirmed that Terry Venables was to be the new England manager.

The official announcement has been delayed until tomorrow, to avoid clashing with Sir Matt Busby's funeral, but any lingering doubt was removed yesterday when Venables met Graham Kelly, the FA's chief executive, and agreed a two and a half year contract, to run to the end of the 1996 European Championship.

Kelly emerged from their meeting to say that an inaugural press conference would be held tomorrow, at Wembley. Venables had been asked not to comment in advance of his formal installation but, 64 days after Graham Taylor's resignation, the decision on his successor was greeted with a fusillade of champagne corks at the new manager's West London dining club.

Attention is already focusing on his choice of assistant, with Bryan Robson, who has advocated Venables' appointment from day one, the early favourite.

England's new manager will take his team to Berlin's Olympic Stadium to face the world champions, Germany, after the friendly on 20 April was moved from Hamburg, where the city council feared that the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birthday would prompt confrontations between neo-Nazi sympathisers and left-wingers.

The new venue, agreed in negotiations at last weekend's European Championship draw, will place the match in the stadium where Hitler staged the 1936 Olympics as a Nazi propaganda vehicle. Berlin has no qualms about security. 'We are the capital and we can handle this,' the German Football Federation president, Egidius Braun, said.

A former England manager, Bobby Robson, yesterday agreed to become the new coach of Porto, the Portuguese champions. Last month he was dismissed by Sporting Lisbon, one of Porto's two main rivals.

In Wales, there was further confusion over the appointment of a new national manager. Alun Evans, the chief executive of the Football Association of Wales, returned to his office in Cardiff refusing to confirm or deny he had been on a flying visit to Spain to speak to John Toshack, the former Liverpool player now in charge of Real Sociedad.

Toshack has emerged as a possible candidate for Terry Yorath's old job even though he has said he is happy in Spain and has no plans to break a contract with the San Sebastian club that still has two years to run.

Tottenham last night signed Liverpool's Israeli international striker, Ronny Rosenthal, for pounds 250,000, but they learned that their goalkeeper, Erik Thorstvedt, will be out for two months because of the knee injury he sustained at Swindon on Saturday.

The takeover of Manchester City took another turn yesterday when Francis Lee threatened to pull out of the deal unless the club's overdraft, believed to be more than pounds 3m, is paid off prior to completion.

The debt, apparently accrued by development work to Maine Road and the pounds 1.6m signing of Alan Kernaghan from Middlesbrough, was discovered last week when Lee's accountants were given full access to the club's books for the first time.

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Rangers ban Celtic fans, page 47

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