Manchester City are ploughing ahead with transfer activity even though uncertainties about Sven Goran Eriksson's future are likely to stretch into next month, with a first summer signing likely next week and Zenit St Petersburg's Andrei Arshavin on the radar.
The estimated conclusion of Thaksin Shinawatra's review of the club – in the first week of June – coincides with the timeframe Luiz Felipe Scolari has been given to accept or reject the club's offer, with the latest meeting apparently held last week. Scolari has been told that City are keen to begin work on next season's squad and £12m-rated Arshavin, who impressed at Eastlands in the Uefa Cup final against Rangers last week, certainly seems to be in contention.
Though Thaksin appears to be willing to release a similar amount to last summer – £40m – the suggestions from inside City are that fewer players are likely to be arriving this time around. The other player high up City's list is CSKA Moscow's Jo, though Everton are also monitoring him and are also known to be interested in Arshavin.
Arshavin, 27, set up both goals as Zenit beat Rangers 2-0 to clinch their first European trophy last week and though the player had been intent on a move to Barcelona, a bid from the Catalan club now seems unlikely. He is in Russia's squad for Euro 2008 but is suspended for the first two matches.
Thaksin seems no nearer knowing whether Scolari will be joining him, though the list of clubs and federations interested in him is growing by the day. The latest, Fenerbahçe, are understood to have offered £3.9m – the figure Scolari is understood to have raised his terms to with City, though he would be highly unlikely to leave his life in Portugal for Turkey. Scolari has told Portuguese media this week that with his son settled with a girlfriend in Portugal he sees the country as a base.
Though it is not inconceivable that Eriksson will stay at City for the time being, on-field developments on the club's Thai tour – from which they returned to Britain yesterday – will not have impressed Thaksin. The tour concluded with a humiliating defeat to a South China Invitational XI. Dietmar Hamann put a City side bereft of many first-team regulars ahead but the hosts levelled before half-time and ended up winning 3-1.
Eriksson reflected after the game on what he said had been a good season for the club. "I think as a club – the players, the coaches, everybody – we had a good year, a very good year," Eriksson said. "The start of the season was fantastic, maybe too good to be true. Second half, we were not as good as the first half. Looking totally, I think it was a very good year."
City are expected to announce a partnership with South China FC, one of a number worldwide in which both clubs share expertise, though the primary aim for Thaksin will be to cultivate the South-east Asian market he considers critical to the club's financial development.
* Doncaster Rovers have suspended the sale of tickets at their Keepmoat Stadium offices for Sunday's League One play-off final. Fans of their opponents, Leeds United, and ticket touts have gathered at the ground in the hope of landing tickets for the game at Wembley after missing out on the Elland Road club's allocation. Doncaster said that email, telephone and fax orders will still be taken.