Tax row could free Hiddink for England full-time

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The Independent Football

Guus Hiddink, the manager of PSV Eindhoven and Australia, is threatening to leave Holland this summer after all, which would put him right back in contention to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson as England's head coach.

The highly qualified Dutchman appeared to have ruled himself out by announcing that he wanted to honour the last year of his contract with PSV and could take charge of a national team only on a part-time basis. That would prove unacceptable to the Football Association, who would also be reluctant to install a temporary team of, say, Sir Trevor Brooking and Stuart Pearce for 12 months until Hiddink became available. But a combination of the Dutch tax authorities and PSV's directors may now prompt him to walk out.

Tax problems stem from after the 2002 World Cup when Hiddink decided to live for a while in Belgium to take advantage of tax rates barely half of those in his home country. Holland's equivalent of the Inland Revenue are now demanding back payments and Hiddink has found himself embroiled in a court case. Claiming he has been stigmatised as "a criminal", he has said that if found guilty he will remain at PSV only until the end of the season.

Relations with the Eindhoven club are also strained because of demands that he must again sell players this summer to reduce debt. Two seasons ago Hiddink lost Arjen Robben, Mateja Kezman and Dennis Rommedahl; last summer, after an unlucky European Cup semi-final defeat against Milan, Mark van Bommel went to Barcelona, Park Ji-Sung to Manchester United, and Johann Vogel to Milan. PSV still lead the Dutch League and have a Champions' League tie against Lyon this week, but Hiddink says he has twice built new teams there and is not prepared to do so again.

All of which ought to give pause for thought to the three-man committee due to report tomorrow week to the full FA board. One of them, Dave Richards, has publicly stated his desire for a British manager - subsequently revised to an English one - and another, Brian Barwick, is an admirer of Martin O'Neill, who is likely to be available now that his wife's health is improving. But the less insular members of the board will want to consider all-comers, and Hiddink, with his two World Cup semi-finals (1988 and 2002) and European Cup win (1988 with PSV), is the outstanding foreign candidate interested in the job.

As speculation continued to rage, the FA felt compelled to issue another statement on Friday denying that any individuals have yet been approached. Officials are insisting that tomorrow week's meeting will be purely to discuss the sub-committee's recommendations about the procedure for selecting potential candidates.

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