Harding moves to No 2 at Chelsea

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The Independent Online
Chelsea go into tomorrow's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United with a new vice-chairman, whose personal stake in the Stamford Bridge club is now the equivalent of a jackpot lottery win -pounds 26.5m.

Matthew Harding's step-up from director to become No 2 to the chairman, Ken Bates, looks to have ended a bitter public feud that had prompted the Chelsea manager, Glenn Hoddle, to delay signing a new contract.

Bates and Harding are now confident that Hoddle will stay after burying their differences on the back of the club's listing on the Alternative Investment Market, which could bring in pounds 30m over the next five years and make Chelsea the "Manchester United of the South".

Bates was "happy to reaffirm his original belief" that he views Harding as his successor. He added: "This has involved Matthew Harding in a further capital investment on an almost unprecedented scale - his total commitment is now pounds 26.5m."

For his money, Harding also gets to chair a committee responsible for playing affairs, including contracts and transfers.

Howard Kendall has blamed the Professional Footballers' Association for the collapse of the pounds 750,000 transfer of the Belarussian international Petr Kachuro from Dynamo Minsk.

Kendall claims the deal failed to beat Thursday's deadline when nobody at the PFA responded to his calls. "I feel they avoided us and in the end we ran out of time," he said.

Faustino Asprilla was on target as he combined with Carlos Valderrama to inspire Colombia to a 4-1 win in a friendly against Bolivia in Medellin.

The Newcastle striker, who scored from a precision pass from Valderrama, was dropped after arriving nine hours late, but won back his place after apologising. Colombia's keeper, Rene Higuita, famous for his back-heeled "scorpion kick" against England at Wembley, hit the post with a late free- kick.

Taylor tops pay league, page 4

Chelsea listed, page 18

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