Football: Venables set to prevail over doubters: England appointment expected in next 48 hours while Yorath steps back into the running for the Welsh post after Robson's refusal

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TERRY VENABLES is likely to be appointed England manager in the next 48 hours, despite renewed allegations of financial impropriety yesterday which appeared to put the appointment in doubt.

Venables is confident that having made arrangements to pay more than pounds 1m in settlements with various creditors he will be able to fulfil his ambition to manage England.

The signs last night were that his optimism was well- founded, with sources close to the Football Association indicating that an appointment was imminent. Sir Bert Millichip, the FA chairman, has said he wants Venables in place for the European Championship draw, in Manchester on Saturday, and Wembley has been put on alert to stage an inaugural press conference within the next 48 hours - possibly tomorrow.

On a day when the Financial Times devoted nearly a full page to airing what it called 'disturbing concerns' over his business dealings, the subject of its 'concern' was paying a small fortune to settle his affairs in readiness to devote his full attention to what he does best. Football, rather than financial management.

Millichip's opinion of him as 'the best coach in the country' is one shared by the vast majority of his peers. The FT may have misgivings, the FA is happy that it has the right man. In bullish mood yesterday, Venables described the FT's strictures as 'the same old stuff - nothing new whatsoever.'

The Serious Fraud Office gave him a clean bill of health, its spokeswoman saying 'we are not investigating Terry Venables', and Premier League sources suggest he has nothing to fear from today's high-powered commission of inquiry into Tottenham's finances, at which Alan Sugar is expected again to criticise his ex-partner's handling of the club's administration.

As Graham Kelly, the FA's chief executive, said at the weekend, England are looking for a football coach, not an accountant. The contract on offer, worth pounds 800,000 over four years, will not be a stumbling block, Venables having told friends that he is not about to haggle over the job he has always wanted.

Wembley awaits. Wednesday is the word.

The Football Association of Wales, meanwhile, is no nearer appointing a new international team manager and, following Bobby Robson's decision to turn down their offer, it is increasingly likely that Terry Yorath will be invited to continue in the job.

Yorath, who presided over Wales's narrow failure to qualify for the World Cup finals before his contract expired at the end of the year, is one of four names on the Wales shortlist. No decision is expected before this weekend's European Championship draw but it is understood that a manager will be in place by the time Wales play a B team international against Scotland at Wrexham on 2 February.

Robson, the former England manager, said: 'My gut feeling is that the job should go to a Welshman.' Other contenders include John Toshack, if he can be persuaded to leave his post in Spain with Real Sociedad, and the Bournemouth assistant manager, David Williams.

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