Venables confident of Australian rule

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The Independent Online
Terry Venables said yesterday he was confident that Australia could qualify for the 1998 World Cup finals, following his three-day get- together with the European-based Australian national players.

"The last three days have been brilliant," explained the former England coach. "There's been no real surprises. I am very impressed with the way that the team has settled down together.

"It's not been easy. I want to get away from the `them and us' conversations that have been going on. It just makes it easier for the European-based players to meet here and now instead of travelling elsewhere to get a whole squad together for people that play in the southern hemisphere.

"I am very pleased with the way the squad have reacted," he admitted. "They are able to be receptive and they are able to take on new ideas I am very confident that 1998 is a realistic target."

"The Australians play in different teams all over the globe and, whilst it was easier as England manager to get everybody together, the work they have done when they have been here has been first class.

"The whole team has been slick and professional in their approach to qualifying. They have all gelled together very well."

Venables has had the difficult task since he took over of combining his Portsmouth duties with his Australian job and also dealing with an initially hostile public.

But victories in the Four Nations tournament and qualifying games against Tahiti and the Solomon Islands have transformed Venables' image.

"There hasn't been too many problems since the Tahiti game. There are always going to be people that object to your appointment but I don't see there are any real problems," he said.

"I picked four different squads but I did that when I was with England. I am still trying to get a full idea of how this team is going to pan out but so far I have a rough idea of what I want."

Venables will return to Australia in May and remain there over the summer before coming back to England for the start of the new season.

Dick Knight, head of the consortium trying to take over at Brighton, yesterday offered new hope to Seagulls' supporters that an end to the power struggle for control of the club could well be in sight.

Knight revealed that "genuine progress" is being made in mediation talks with co-owners Bill Archer and Greg Stanley.

Detailed proposals for the restructuring of the Third Division club were presented by the consortium to Archer and Stanley at the latest meeting with mediators from the Centre for Dispute Resolution in London on Monday.

Albion's co-owners have asked for more time to consider the consortium's plan and they will respond at the next meeting, earmarked for next Wednesday.

Knight said: "All Albion supporters will share my frustration that the mediation meeting did not produce a cut and dried result.

"But I can confirm that our plans represent a progressive route forward for the club, which the consortium is confident it can deliver. We remain optimistic of a positive outcome."

Brighton-born Knight is a life-long Albion fan and is appealing to supporters to continue to get behind the team in their battle for league survival.

Russia's football authorities lifted restrictions on foreigners playing in its Premier League on Wednesday to bring it into line with the rest of Europe, a league official said.

Leonid Lipovoi, vice-president of the Professional Football League, said a rule barring clubs from fielding more than three foreigners had been scrapped in accordance with the Bosman decision lifting such restrictions elsewhere on the continent.

"We decided to cancel all limitations for foreign players in the Premier League to keep to European rules and to be able to march together down the Bosman path,'' Lipovoi said. "The whole of Europe, including Russia, has to follow the same rules and we welcome this."