Football: Wilkinson turns to Deane

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LEEDS UNITED, anxious to recruit a big striker to succeed Lee Chapman, yesterday abandoned their protracted attempt to sign Duncan Ferguson and switched their attention to Sheffield United's Brian Deane, writes Phil Shaw.

Ferguson's pounds 3.25m move from Dundee United - who yesterday appointed the former Southampton and Yugoslavia player Ivan Golac as manager - was finally declared dead by Howard Wilkinson after five weeks of talks.

The Leeds manager confirmed that he had been 'actively pursuing other options' during the Ferguson saga. Deane, Leeds- born and an England international, asked for a transfer last Thursday. 'We finally decided over the weekend, as a result of speaking to Ferguson and to his lawyer and his agent, that the best thing would be to withdraw from negotiations and pursue other options,' Wilkinson said.

The problems with Ferguson were 'all at the other end', Wilkinson added, a reference to the player's objection to a clause agreed by Dundee United and Leeds preventing his being sold on to Rangers. Ferguson, contracted to Tannadice until 1998, is clearly gambling on a U-turn which would facilitate his pounds 4m move to Ibrox.

Steve Perryman has resigned as manager of Watford and is expected to become assistant to Ossie Ardiles at Tottenham. Perryman, a former Spurs captain, has been replaced on a caretaker basis by Kenny Jackett.

Coventry have agreed a pounds 150,000 fee with Plymouth for the former Blackpool left-back, Steve Morgan. Luton and Oxford are vying for Mick Harford, the veteran Sunderland striker who wants to leave his home-town club and return south. Sunderland have offered Harford plus pounds 500,000 for Luton's Phil Gray.

The start of the Football League season on 14 August may be disrupted by strike action by referees, who are seeking increased pay, but a deal with the Premier League looks close.