Wilkins shocks Wright

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The Independent Online
A fresh twist to the news that Ray Wilkins' two-year reign as Queen's Park Rangers player-manager had come to an end emerged last night when the club's new owner, Chris Wright, revealed that the former England captain had quit.

A statement released by the club earlier yesterday stated that Wilkins left "by mutual consent" following "lengthy discussions" with Wright and the chief executive, Clive Berlin.

However, Wright claims he was "shocked and surprised" at Wilkins' decision. He said: "Ray's a nice and genuinely caring person and he thought that for the benefit of himself and for the club it would be better to take the opportunity to hand over to someone else. There were no bad feelings. But having got over the shock of it we have to move on."

Wilkins had said after Sunday's home defeat by Bolton that he was due to attend his first board meeting since Wright, a music-publishing magnate, bought the club for around pounds 10m at the start of the season. Wilkins, who has been striving to keep the coveted winger Trevor Sinclair at Loftus Road, even joked that this could mean bad news.

Wright, however, speaking on QPR Clubcall, said: "I thought we had a good meeting. Ray left with a clear mandate of which players he wanted to bring to the club, so I was shocked when he said he wanted to discuss the possibility of leaving.

"I was shocked and surprised at Ray's decision. It's very distressing but we have to deal with it and we will deal with it. We need to get the right man in to bring in the right players to take the club forward."

Nottingham Forest have played down reports that their manager, Frank Clark, is at the centre of a new inquiry into the activities of the agent, Rune Hauge. Norwegian police are believed to have made a request to the Home Office to interview Clark over the transfer of Alf Inge Haland to Forest.

The assistant manager, Alan Hill, said: "We don't know what all the fuss is about. We co-operated with the Norwegian police when they came over to make inquiries about the transfer and they were happy the entire deal had been done before Frank took over as manager."

Hauge has been charged with serious fraud over the transfers of Haland to Forest and Pal Lydersen to Arsenal.

Wimbledon's owner, Sam Hammam, has confirmed that Dean Holdsworth has submitted a written transfer request. Yet the striker, valued at pounds 4m but dropped for last Monday's 1-0 defeat at Leeds, remains in favour with Hammam, who added: "We still love him." He refused to say whether the request had been accepted.

Holdsworth, 26, joined Wimbledon for pounds 750,000 from Brentford four years ago and scored 16 goals in all competitions last season. He has had an uneasy relationship with the manager, Roy Kinnear, for a while now and several times over the last two seasons has appeared on the point of being sold.

One club that had shown an interest in signing Holdsworth, Manchester United, had their European Cup ambitions bolstered by the news that Eric Cantona will be available for their opening Champions' League tie against Juventus in Turin next week. United had expected to be without the Frenchman, as he was booked in a Champions' League game against Gothenburg in November 1994 and was facing a one-match ban, which was due to be enforced next Wednesday.

However, Uefa, the European governing body, confirmed that the ban no longer counts as Cantona missed last season's Uefa Cup tie against Rotor Volgograd while serving his eight-month worldwide suspension.