Francis to stay in charge after Brady assurance

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Trevor Francis, the Birmingham City manager, is to stay in charge at St Andrew's following talks with the club's managing director, Karren Brady. His job had been at the centre of speculation after he called for a meeting with Brady in the wake of a statement issued by the club at the end of last week expressing concern at recent results.

Francis, who has ruled out resigning, said: "It was a positive meeting. I asked for the assurances that I was given at the start of the season, that my objective is to get Blues into the Premiership and that I have the whole season to work with, to be repeated."

Birmingham have also dismissed reports that the club is about to be taken over by the comedian Jasper Carrott, the musician Jeff Lynne and Francis.

Harry Redknapp is pleading with Portsmouth to cut the £500,000 "transfer fee" they want for him and clear the way for him to become Leicester City's new manager.

Redknapp, the director of football at Portsmouth, was in talks with his chairman, Milan Mandaric, last night. The former West Ham manager is keen to join, but the hard-up Foxes need to reduce the cost of the package.

Redknapp's terms have been discussed, along with those of Frank Lampard and Dave Bassett, who would join his coaching set-up, but the manager would have to shed one of his back-room staff if Portsmouth hold out for £500,000.

The Wolves striker Robert Taylor has returned to Gillingham on loan. Taylor had a spell at Priestfield between August 1998 and November 1999, scoring 39 goals in 70 appearances before moving to Manchester City for £1.5m. Injuries hampered his Maine Road career and he then switched to Wolves.

Sheffield United's Wales international, Robert Page, faces a race against time to play for both club and country inside 24 hours this weekend. The centre-back is expected to line up for Wales against Belarus in this afternoon's World Cup qualifying match in Cardiff, but he is also in demand for the Blades' local derby with Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow lunchtime. The former Watford defender must make the 200-mile journey from the Millennium Stadium to Bramall Lane and then satisfy the United manager, Neil Warnock, that he is fit to play in the game at Hillsborough.

Chelsea's Uefa Cup tie in Israel against Hapoel Tel Aviv on 18 October is in doubt after Fifa postponed tomorrow's World Cup qualifier between Israel and Austria in Tel Aviv, in the wake of Thursday's plane crash in the Black Sea which killed 78 people.

The former Celtic coach, Billy Stark, has succeeded Sandy Clark' as St Johnstone manager.

South Korea will ban cigarettes and balloons at stadiums during next year's World Cup finals to reduce the amount of waste. The announcement came from the Korea World Cup Organising Committee yesterday, which added it may also ban instant noodles from venues for similar reasons.

The organisers said small plastic bags will be handed out to fans as they enter stadiums in an attempt to encourage them to take their own rubbish home.