Football: Venables ready to accept FA's conditions: Former Tottenham manager expects offer of England job this morning while Scotland's coach lays claim to disputed players

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND will discover today whether Terry Venables wants the manager's job badly enough to take it on the Football Association's strings-attached terms, rather than his own.

The indications last night were that he would accept the FA's conditions, and a two and a half year contract, when the formal offer is made this morning by Jimmy Armfield, the special adviser to the head-hunting sub-committee.

The five-man committee had yet another meeting in the Midlands yesterday, after which it was confirmed that Venables was to be asked to fill the vacancy created when Graham Taylor resigned, nine weeks ago.

Champagne all round at the new manager's West London members club? Not immediately. The FA was sufficiently concerned about various accusations of financial malpractice, inside and outside football, to consider it prudent to protect itself against undiscovered skeletons in the Venables closet.

He could have the job, but on conditions which would see him lose it immediately in the event of any of the more embarrassing allegations being proved. He was also being offered what is essentially a coaching post, with none of the wider responsibilities of management, and certainly none of the input Taylor had on the commercial side.

Serious doubts as to whether Venables would accept the appointment on such terms were behind talk of a change of tack yesterday, when the FA's chief executive, Graham Kelly, spoke of the possibility of a temporary administration.

If the man they had identified as the best coach in the country was to find their conditions unacceptable, they would put the England team in the hands of a caretaker for the forthcoming friendlies against Denmark (9 March) and Germany (20 April). Such a course of action, first mooted the day Taylor quit, would give them breathing space in which to reassess their options. There were strong indications last night that Plan B would not be necessary.

That second friendly match is causing problems of its own. Scheduled for the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birthday it provoked fears of neo-Nazi violence which led to its being moved away from Hamburg. The search is still on for a new venue.

Craig Brown has laid claim to two disputed players by including them in his first squad as national coach, for the B international against Wales at Wrexham on 2 February. He called up Liverpool's English-born Don Hutchison and Celtic's Pat McGinlay, who had attracted interest from the Republic of Ireland.

Hutchison, whose father comes from Scotland, was initially deterred from committing himself to Scotland by his club manager, Graeme Souness, but he is now an assimilated player at Anfield and no longer a 'foreigner' for European games.

Wales could have Terry Yorath back at the helm by the time that match is played. The former Tottenham and Leeds midfielder could learn today whether he will reclaim the Wales manager's job.

The Welsh Football Association's international and finance committees are meeting to discuss the vacant position, but the WFA chief executive, Alun Evans, said yesterday there may not be a decision today. Only Wrexham's Brian Flynn appears to be a rival to Yorath.

Gerry Armstrong, Bryan Hamilton and Jimmy and Chris Nicholl have been shortlisted to take over from Billy Bingham as Northern Ireland's manager.

Leslie Silver, the Leeds chairman, yesterday issued a public apology to Manchester United and Sir Matt Busby's family for his club's fans' misbehaviour during the minute's silence before the televised Premiership match at Blackburn on Sunday.

Leading article, page 15

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