Hoddle's future still unclear

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The Independent Online

Glenn Hoddle is still undecided about his Chelsea future - despite the announcement of the biggest sponsorship deal in the club's history.

Umbro, Chelsea's kit company since 1987, has signed for another seven years in a multi-million pound, performance-related deal on a par with their recent contracts with Everton and Manchester United, the latter estimated anywhere between pounds 40 and pounds 85m.

Ken Bates, the Chelsea chairman, hailed Umbro's decision to renegotiate three years ahead of schedule as a massive vote of confidence in the club's future. Hovever, he avoided all questions about the club's more general situation.

Hoddle, worried by the boardroom dispute with the millionaire director, Matthew Harding, wants details of an impending peace formula before committing himself to a new contract.

The manager drew on a cricketing analogy when he laid out the conditions for a decision: "I need to know what the wicket's like, what the conditions are, how many overs we've got. Those issues are not quite finalised. When they are, I can sit down and start discussing it."

If he stays, Hoddle could have a huge budget at his disposal next season, with Harding aiming to release up to pounds 10m and a large proportion of the Umbro deal earmarked for transfers too, despite the ambitious redevelopment of the ground.

"Umbro will get their just rewards from what happens on the pitch and the money they are putting into the club is obviously football-orientated money, that's how the contract has been written. I'm very pleased and positive about that," Hoddle said.

Mick Harford has been charged with misconduct by the Association following Wimbledon's FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea on Saturday. The 37-year-old striker is in trouble for a V-sign to Stamford Bridge fans, rather than an alleged verbal assault on Hoddle. Also on a misconduct charge is Gerard Lavin, the Millwall's full-back, for allegedly spitting at Luton fans last month.

Ian Wright still wants to leave Arsenal, but not until the end of the season. The striker, who has has had his transfer request turned down, said: "I've decided between now and the end of the season to concentrate on my football. I'll certainly be doing my best for the club. All I want to do is score goals and enjoy football, but I believe the time is right to go."

Derby are set to sign the Norwich striker Ashley Ward for pounds 1m. The 25- year-old Ward discussed personal terms with the First Division leaders last night.