Football: Venables emerges as candidate for Leeds

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TERRY VENABLES emerged last night as a contender for the Leeds United job, despite having taken over at Crystal Palace only three months ago.

The former England manager's name has been put to the Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, and he is believed to be high on the short-list of candidates to replace George Graham.

Venables is understood to be frustrated at the limited resources he has availabe at Palace. The promise of big-name signings has not materialised and he seemed to demonstrate his disappointment at the situation in last weekend's programme, in which he said he had not been in favour of the sale of Neil Shipperley to Nottingham Forest.

The club's owner and chairman, Mark Goldberg, put Venables on a lucrative contract after months of negotiations but, like Graham, there may be a get-out clause with a fixed compensation fee.

Ridsdale, who said he hopes to announce Graham's successor by 17 October, is believed to have a short-list that also includes Leicester City's Martin O'Neill and Coventry City's Gordon Strachan.

Both clubs have issued "hands-off" warnings, but as Leeds found with Graham, that means little.

"Martin O'Neill is under contract at Leicester City Football Club until the summer of the year 2000," the Leicester chairman, John Elsom, said. "If Leeds United were to wish to speak to Martin they would need to gain the permission of the board and myself. This permission will not be given."

Coventry's chairman, Bryan Richardson, has sent letters to various interested parties including the Leeds chairman, the Football Association, the Premier League and the League Managers' Association making it clear that Strachan is going nowhere. Strachan has refused to commit himself to Coventry, saying that words mean nothing in football.

"Why should I say anything like that when I could get the sack in a month?" he asked. "Then I would want any job that was offered to me. I don't deal in rumours, only facts. The facts are that my team is second bottom of the league and that doesn't make me very happy."

One person who is convinced that the Coventry manager is not leaving for Leeds is the club's new signing, Steve Froggatt, who signed from Wolves in a pounds 1.9m deal.

"Gordon assured me he was staying at Coventry and that was good enough for me," he said yesterday.

Meanwhile, George Graham's assistant at Elland Road, David O'Leary, has ruled himself out of contention for the Leeds vacancy. He will take charge of the team for their Premiership game against Leicester tomorrow, though, and said yesterday that he would be happy to continue in that role.