'Crippled' Owls put pressure on Culley

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The Independent Online

The Sheffield Wednesday chairman, Howard Culley, will come under intense pressure to resign tonight as shareholders debate ways to turn the stricken club around. The heat will again be on Culley and his fellow director, Bob Grierson, at the Annual Meeting just months after he survived a vote of no confidence in their leadership at an Extraordinary General Meeting in the summer.

The Sheffield Wednesday chairman, Howard Culley, will come under intense pressure to resign tonight as shareholders debate ways to turn the stricken club around. The heat will again be on Culley and his fellow director, Bob Grierson, at the Annual Meeting just months after he survived a vote of no confidence in their leadership at an Extraordinary General Meeting in the summer.

But the Owls are currently in the grip of a crippling financial crisis, to such an extent that the manager, Paul Jewell, has been forced to let 11 players leave since his arrival from Bradford in the summer to help ease the burden on a staggering wage bill and debts of £12m. The club are in desperate need of outside financial help to reduce the debt and bolster the threadbare squad. The Shareholders' Association, however, believe no-one will come in while Culley and Grierson are on the board, and are demanding "a change of blood at the highest level".

While Jeffrey Samuel, a Leeds-based telecommunications entrepreneur, has expressed an interest in coming to Wednesday's aid, the Shareholders' chairman, David Coupe, is advocating the local businessman Dave Allen as a more suitable candidate. Coupe says Allen, who is due to join the board at the AGM, has "the wherewithal and financial connections to put together a consortium to save the club".

Joe Royle has held talks with Manchester City's former world player of the year George Weah in an effort to ease his worries about being used in a part-time role by the club. The Liberian striker has been told that he is being used as a substitute in away games because of City's need to concentrate on defence, but that for home games his talents will be utilised to the full.

Weah had a chat with Royle last week, sparking talk of a rift, but his English representative Ian Anderson revealed: "There is no problem between them. Rumours started because he went back to Italy, but he had been given some time off."

Red Star Belgrade have been fined £15,000 by Uefa for their supporters' behaviour during the Uefa Cup defeat of Leicester in Vienna last month.

The Leicester players Ade Akinbiyi and Andy Impey were subjected to racist chanting by fans of the Yugoslav club during City's 3-1 defeat in the Austrian capital and flares were also launched by Red Star supporters into the section reserved for Leicester fans during the first round, second leg tie, which had been moved from Belgrade for security reasons.

European football's governing body said Red Star's fans were responsible for "endangering safety and security for players as well as other spectators" and added that their behaviour had been "humiliating in particular against some Leicester City players, whom they abused with racist chants".

Uefa has also banned the Besiktas striker Pascal Nouma for three Champions' League matches after the Frenchman pushed the Leeds defender Danny Mills in the face during last month's Group stage match at Elland Road.

The referee did not see the incident, which went unpunished at the time but was mentioned to Uefa by its delegate at the match. Nouma will now miss the return game in Istanbul on 18 October.

The Derby County manager, Jim Smith, wants to take Christian Dailly back to the club from Blackburn. The Scotland centre-half, who is currently out of favour at Blackburn and has been put up for sale, is likely to command a fee of £4m. Smith sold Dailly to Rovers for £5.3m and would pay half that sum for his return.

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