Press Watch: Magnier and O'Neill holiday in Barbados

Rumours abound as United shareholder Magnier and Celtic manager O'Neill holiday on same Caribbean island
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The Independent Football

Any number of conspiracy theories will be fuelled by the Mail on Sunday's revelation of an extraordinary gathering at the exclusive Sandy Lane beach resort in Barbados 10 days ago.

While Sir Alex Ferguson was preparing his Manchester United side to meet Leeds the weekend before last, five key players in the power struggle building at Old Trafford chose to holiday simultaneously on the Caribbean island, with Celtic manager Martin O'Neill also among the guests.

Principal United shareholder John Magnier, who is a part owner of Sandy Lane, was there along with Celtic's largest shareholder, Dermot Desmond, the investment banker and football broker Keith Harris, United director Mike Edelson and football agent Pini Zahavi. The report stressed that O'Neill was not party to any discussions but said that Harris, who has ties with United States sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer, spoke informally to Magnier. Glazer increased his stake in United to 16.69 per cent only last week.

Desmond, apart from having an interest in O'Neill's future, has been involved in trying to broker a peace deal between Ferguson and Magnier over their Rock of Gilbraltar stud rights row.

At least there was no sign of the Libyan president, Colonel Moamar al Gaddafi, although his presence on the back pages will no longer surprise readers of the People, who are told that the former enemy of the West has £20m burning a hole in his pocket and designs on buying a Premiership club.

Gaddafi, who has a stake in Juventus, has been looking with interest, apparently, at Leeds, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton and Bolton. Elsewhere, the People reports that Leeds are close to being taken over by the consortium of local businessmen led by Gerald Krasner, who would ask Gordon Strachan to become manager, if successful.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Mirror, News of the World and Sunday Express have the same "exclusive" revelation that Liverpool want Kenny Dalglish as manager if they part company with Gérard Houllier.

The Mirror says Liverpool chairman David Moores has made Dalglish his number one target, although the report suggests Houllier may be given one more season. The Express says that while he quit Anfield in 1990, Dalglish has never lost his affection for the club and would find it hard to resist any invitation to return.

In the meantime, Houllier should brace himself for a "name your price" offer for Steven Gerrard from Chelsea in the summer, according to the Mirror, which claims Real Madrid are also interested, while Carling Cup winners Middlesbrough are said by the People to have set aside £4.5m to buy the Liverpool striker Emile Heskey. Chelsea are plotting to steal PSV Eindhoven striker Arjen Robben from under Sir Alex Ferguson's nose, says the People, as part of a deal with the Dutch club to loan them Chelsea squad players.

The News of the World says Birmingham want Barcelona's former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars and reckons Charlton want to spend £6m of their Scott Parker proceeds on Nottingham Forest's Andy Reid.

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