Mandaric admits Dowie talks

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The Independent Online

Milan Mandaric finally completed his takeover of Leicester City yesterday, revealing having talks with Iain Dowie about becoming their new manager but saying he will keep Rob Kelly in the job for the time being.

Mandaric is a serial club owner who has had teams in America and Europe, most recently Portsmouth. He says that his plan is to lift Leicester from their current plight (17th in the Championship, five points above the relegation zone) back into the Premiership by 2010. They were last in the top flight in 2004.

"I will do everything humanly possible to realise the fans' dream, and my dream, and I will apply all my enthusiasm, effort and financial support to get there," he said. "And, if you ask me, if I didn't make it in three years' time, I would call myself a failure... To get the club where we want to go will take some serious money but whatever it takes will be there."

Mandaric has bought control for an undisclosed sum, reported locally at around £6m, although his total investment will be bigger, estimated at £25m or more, much of it in loans. While he is the new owner already, Stock Market regulations prevent him from becoming chairman for another 22 days.

Dowie has been out of management since November, when he was sacked by Charlton Athletic. He is the favourite to succeed Micky Adams at Coventry City.

Mandaric has promised to stand by Kelly but said: "I have been in dialogue with Iain Dowie and other managers. A lot of managers would like to be at Leicester but we have made a decision to stay with Rob Kelly and we will see how far we can go.

"We have been working on plans for next season and Rob Kelly is in those plans and he has support from me. My meeting with Rob was very productive and positive. Rob is an intelligent and honest manager who knows what needs to be done.

"The first thing is to secure our stability on the field and be sure we are staying in this division. The timescale of that is measured by the success of the team. But we are under no illusion here - it is a hell of a task and challenge."

* Mike Newell, the Luton Town manager, has been fined £6,500 by the FA in relation to post-match comments about female assistant referee Amy Rayner in November. He was fined £5,000 for his comments and also £1,500 for "failing to act in the best interests of the game in that his comments were made about the role of women match officials in football generally."

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