Stubbs prepares for pounds 3.5m move to Celtic

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The Independent Online
Alan Stubbs, the Bolton Wanderers captain, is expected to sign for Celtic today in a pounds 3.5m move which will leave his former manager, Bruce Rioch, out in the cold at Arsenal.

Stubbs was in Glasgow last night for a medical and to sort out terms on a pounds 2m personal contract that came out of the blue. Stubbs was told to sit by the phone by Bolton yesterday and thought he would be teaming up again with Rioch at Highbury. Instead, though, the Celtic chairman, Fergus McCann, was on the line with an offer Stubbs could not refuse.

Stubbs has wanted a transfer all season since a move to Blackburn Rovers collapsed at the beginning of the campaign. Arsenal were the clear favourites in the chase, but it seems that Rioch has lost his man.

Trevor Francis last night accepted a three-year contract to become the new manager of First Division Birmingham, the club he began his career with 25 years ago. The former Sheffield Wednesday manager takes over from Barry Fry who was sacked on Tuesday.

Chelsea's chief executive, Colin Hutchinson, last night said that the Stamford Bridge club have stepped up their efforts to sign the Juventus and Italy striker, Gianluca Vialli.

Eric Cantona accepted his "Footballer of the Year" award at last night's football writers' annual dinner in central London, and admitted that he has listened to and learned from some - but not all - of the advice that he has received in the past year.

The Manchester United player, who served an eight-month ban last year for an assault on a spectator at Crystal Palace, said: "Some criticism means nothing, so I compare some of them to toilets and think 'Screw them'. But others are worth listening to, and I have tried to do better."

The Frenchman added: "It has been a long year - but what a beautiful one. I would like to share this award with all the people at Manchester United. The players, the staff, Alex Ferguson, Brian Kidd and the fans. They have all been wonderful and we all deserve this award together."

Ray Wilkins' future as manager of Queen's Park Rangers may be in doubt after the Thompson family yesterday relinquished control of the relegated west London club. Richard Thompson, who owns the club, resigned as a director, ending eight years of family ties with the club, and Rangers are now officially up for sale. Negotiations have already begun with two potential buyers and the search is also on for new sponsors after the computer company, Compaq, pulled out.

Paul McStay, the Celtic captain, was yesterday ruled out of Scotland's squad for Euro 96 - which means a recall for Eoin Jess, the Coventry player who was left out of Craig Brown's squad for the tour of the United States later this month.

McStay, with 73 caps for Scotland, is to have an ankle operation in the summer and the 31-year-old midfielder will not be ready for the European Championship, which starts next month.

The Bulgarian international, Ilian Kiriakov, is expected to fly to Aberdeen next week to complete a pounds 400,000 move from Anorthosis Famagusta. The Cypriot club have agreed the fee for the 27-year-old midfielder, who will be a key member of his country's Euro 96 squad.

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