Venables approached Gulu Lalvani, an Indian-born entrepreneur, this week to seek financial support in his quest to buy out the major shareholding of the Tottenham chairman, but came away from the meeting with an offer from Lalvani to buy his own 23 per cent shareholding.
'I've got somebody else prepared to do that as well,' the former chief executive said. 'It doesn't figure in my plans right now but I've got to keep my options open on the way to the court case (at which, on 5 November, Venables hopes that Sugar will be instructed to sell him his shares).'
Lalvani, a multi-millionaire who enabled Sugar to set up business when he lent him pounds 500 in the 1960s, made his counter offer because he doubted whether Sugar (with whom he has recently fallen out) would sell him his 49 per cent holding. The offer to Venables, whom he said wanted more than pounds 3m for his shares, was dependent on Lalvani being given a seat on the board. Sugar has promised him an answer on that one in a week.
An appeal court ordered the release yesterday of Jean-Pierre Bernes, the Marseille general- secretary, the day after he repeated his innocence in the French bribery scandal during a five-hour confrontation with his accusers. Eric de Montgolfier, the prosecutor, said that it would be wrong to conclude there had been a setback.
Glenn Hoddle, the Chelsea manager, has accepted that the departure of Andy Townsend, the club captain, to Aston Villa for pounds 2.1m will upset a large contingent of Stamford Bridge supporters but stressed that Townsend asked to be transferred the day Hoddle arrived.
'He said that his heart was not in the club and that he couldn't give his best,' Hoddle said. 'I'm disappointed to lose his talent.'
Having missed out on Townsend, Manchester City were last night hoping to console themselves by signing Alphonse Groenendijk, an Ajax midfielder, for pounds 500,000. Gary Blissett will complete his move from Brentford to Wimbledon this morning after another of those contractual hitches threatened to scupper the deal.
With Ron Atkinson, the Villa manager, in celebratory mood it was a good day for Paul McGrath to find himself carpeted for missing the club's flight to Japan last week.
The Football League has announced a three-year sponsorship worth pounds 3m by Endsleigh, an insurance company, in succession to their six-year partnership with Barclays Bank.