Portsmouth's Warnock bid hits cash snag

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The Independent Online

Portsmouth's plans to appoint Neil Warnock as their manager appear to have hit a stumbling block. If the move collapses, it increases the chance of Harry Redknapp making a dramatic return to Fratton Park.

Talks continued yesterday between Warnock, his advisers and the Portsmouth chairman, Milan Mandaric, who does not expect a deal to be concluded before the beginning of next week.

Warnock's club, Sheffield United, gave official permission for Mandaric to speak to their manager but stressed that any move is "conditional on suitable compensation". Given that Warnock, 57 today, has only seven months left on his contract, it is thought that would amount to £250,000.

However, there appears to be a problem, which may be to do with Warnock's personal terms or the resources he is asking for. He has not received a counter-offer from United, and has cancelled today's planned press conference ahead of this weekend's Sheffield derby.

Mandaric is still confident he will land his number one target, who wants to appoint the Chester City manager, Keith Curle, as his assistant. "If we can do a deal, we would still need to go back to Sheffield United about their compensation," Mandaric said. "But it is a breakthrough for us in terms of setting up a proper interview with regard to appointing a new manager.

"It will be impossible to have the new manager in place this Saturday, so we hope to have everything concluded before we play Tottenham the following weekend." At the same time, he has not ruled out a move for Redknapp, who left Portsmouth 12 months ago and eventually took over at Southampton. As of last night, their chairman, Rupert Lowe, had not received an official approach for Redknapp but speculation on the south coast is growing that he will return if a deal for Warnock collapses.

"Milan Mandaric has not made an approach and there is no sign of one," Lowe said. "It could not get off the ground without me being informed." Southampton would not stand in the way of Redknapp leaving, but would expect compensation. There remains support for Redknapp, despite his acrimonious departure, on the Portsmouth board.

If neither Warnock nor Redknapp are appointed, Portsmouth may go back for Rangers' Alex McLeish.

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