Football: Yorke in demand by sportswear firms

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The Independent Online
DWIGHT YORKE is ready to cash in on Manchester United's treble success with a sportswear contract that may be worth up to pounds 1m a year.

Sportswear manufacturers Nike and Umbro are apparently locked in a battle to poach him from the Japanese company Mizuno. Yorke is under intense pressure to commit to either of the new prospective sponsors in the next 48 hours.

Umbro have put a package to Yorke that includes a percentage of sales and reaches a total of almost pounds 1m a season - but Nike have also had secret discussions and believe they have got their man. The current top figure for a footballer in Britain is the basic pounds 280,000 a year paid by Umbro to Robbie Fowler.

Alan Smith and Stephen McPhail are the latest of David O'Leary's young players to agree lucrative new contracts at Leeds United. Smith, the 18- year-old striker, and the 19-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder McPhail have agreed five-year deals. Republic of Ireland defender Ian Harte and Nigel Martyn's goalkeeping understudy, Paul Robinson, signed new deals last week with the Elland Road club, who finished fourth in the Premiership.

Neil Lennon is being offered a record deal by Leicester City in a bid to commit his future to Martin O'Neill's club. The Northern Ireland midfielder can pick up a contract of close to pounds 1m a year if he opts to stay at Filbert Street.

Phil O'Donnell yesterday delayed a family holiday in Florida to help Scotland's European Championship cause. The 27-year-old midfielder, who played for Celtic in the 1-0 defeat by Rangers in the Scottish Cup final on Saturday, replaces Neil McCann, who has a knee injury.

Lee Clark, the Sunderland midfielder, is to hold talks with his manager, Peter Reid, over his future at the Stadium of Light. The club's record signing has been the subject of transfer rumours in recent months, the latest speculation linking him with a pounds 3m move to Celtic. Clark left Newcastle in June 1997 to join their arch-rivals in a pounds 2.5million move that surprised fans on both Tyneside and Wearside, but quickly established himself as the playmaker in Reid's side.

Ebbe Skovdahl yesterday swapped Denmark for Scotland to become the new manager of Aberdeen after agreeing a two-year deal. Skovdahl, the uncle of Brian Laudrup, has been given permission to leave Brondby immediately, even though his coaching contract is not due to expire until December. He takes over from Paul Hegarty, the caretaker-manager, who left the club yesterday.

Skovdahl arrives in Scotland with a good pedigree but will be aware that he faces a difficult job in trying to restore Aberdeen as a major force. The Dons finished eighth in the table this season with Hegarty departing with a bitter blast at the senior players - accusing them of being highly- paid, under achievers.

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