Lazio 'no' to Eriksson early release

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The Independent Football

Lazio have said departing boss Sven-Goran Eriksson will not be released early from his contract to manage England.

Lazio have said departing boss Sven-Goran Eriksson will not be released early from his contract to manage England.

Club owner Sergio Cragnotti said it would be impossible for Eriksson to manage both England and Italian champions Lazio at the same time.

Eriksson's assistant Tord Grip has already been allowed to leave and joined the FA's payrole today.

But Crognotti has taken a different view with Eriksson, who has rejuvenated Lazio in recent seasons and whose contract lasts until July 1.

He said: "I'm very proud that Sven will be the coach of England but it is impossible for him to go there before July and I think he will respect his contract.

"Lazio are not searching for anyone else at the moment and he will continue to fight for the championship and the Champions League.

"He has not betrayed us. This is the sort of thing that is normal in the world of football."

Eriksson was flying into England tonight to prepare to give his first public reaction to his appointment as national team coach.

The Football Association remain hopeful that Lazio can be persuaded to allow Eriksson to coach England on a part-time basis for three World Cup qualifiers in March and June.

He will meet the English media for the first time after signing his England contract at 8am tomorrow.

And the early timing, has been deliberately chosen to ensure that he has seen not to be abandoning Lazio by missing their afternoon training session as he will fly back immediately afterwards.

The Lazio coach is evidently conscious of concerns being expressed in Italy that he may be unable to "ride two horses at once" by committing his future to England while attempting to concentrate his present attention on Lazio.

Indeed, several Italian observers believe it is unlikely that he will still be in charge of the club in June next year as he could be sacked before then if results turn against him - a situation that would hardly harm England.

Eriksson at least managed to stifle any public display of frustration at his decision by Lazio supporters at today's Serie A fixture against Brescia.

His 76th-minute introduction of substitute Fabrizio Ravanelli led directly to Lazio's winner two minutes later even if the team's display had been far from convincing before then.

The match was watched by FA executive director David Davies, who took the chance to speak to Cragnotti but insisted that any talk of a part-time role for Eriksson was a "matter for discussion over the next few days."

Davies observed: "I had a chance to meet Mr Cragnotti, who gave me a very warm welcome, as well as Sven.

"It's a very sensitive situation. Sven is the coach of Lazio and he had a very important match today from everyone's point of view.

"It was an excellent result and I had the chance to talk to him, amongst other things about the right moment to talk to the media in England."

Lazio's Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved meanwhile declared that England was "the ideal place" for Eriksson.

Nedved, who is in favour of Lazio assistant coach Roberto Mancini being promoted when Eriksson leaves, told internet site "It was on Tuesday that Mr Eriksson told us he would be leaving for England in July.

"It's a pity. Even though we had some disagreements at the start, we evened them out over time and our recent relationship has been good.

"On the other hand, I think coach Eriksson has done the right thing in accepting such an attractive offer."