Chelsea, Leeds in £10m peace deal

In July Leeds chairman Ken Bates was demanding ’24 million in compensation as well as calling on the FA to deduct points from Chelsea for allegedly poaching players.

Now the champions have paid a settlement that satisfies Leeds.

They have also agreed to review their internal recruitment policies, but have made no admission of liability in the case.

Bates refused to discuss the level of compensation, but senior Elland Road officials recently claimed that they expected to seal a ’10m deal.

Under the agreement, Chelsea will pay a maximum of ’10m if the youngsters meet development targets.

Gerrard happy no more

Steven Gerrard’s future at Liverpool is hanging in the balance, with the Anfield captain growing increasingly unhappy with life under Rafa Benitez.

The strained relationship between Gerrard and Benitez is now close to breaking point.

Gerrard publicly insists that he is happy to play anywhere in Benitez’s tactical system.

But privately, he feels his poor form this season is down to the Spaniard’s insistence that he plays wide on the right of midfield, while Xabi Alonso and Momo Sissoko play in his favourite central position.

Gerrard is prepared to put his preference to one side for England ‘ but feels his talent is going to waste at Anfield.

Cech snubs letter of apology

Stricken Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has snubbed Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt’s letter of apology.

Hunt wrote to Cech in hospital to say sorry for the collision that left the Czech ace with a fractured skull during the Blues’ 1-0 win at the Madejski Stadium three weeks ago.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho accused him of deliberately maiming Cech but the FA have cleared him of any wrongdoing.

But Hunt said he has received no reply to his letter from the goalkeeper or Chelsea.

Downing

in shock blast

Stewart Downing has exposed the first cracks in Steve McClaren’s brave new England.

In an outspoken, frank, and controversial interview, the Middlesbrough winger revealed his hurt and dismay at the way he was dumped by McClaren and the reasons he was given at the time.

Downing is incensed he was the only player dropped after England’s embarrassing 0-0 European Championship qualifying draw at home to Macedonia earlier last month.

He clearly feels other players should also have been axed for the next game ‘ England’s disastrous 2-0 Group E defeat against Croatia in Zagreb.

Downing revealed: “I knew we were going to get criticism after the Macedonia game because we didn’t win. But I thought it was a bit harsh when just two players were singled out ‘ Wayne Rooney and myself.”

O’Neill after Keane

Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill is lining up a ‘5 million swoop for Spurs striker Robbie Keane.

The Villa manager is set to test Tottenham’s resolve with a January transfer-window move for the Republic of Ireland international.

And if that bid fails, he will make a further attempt to lure Keane away from White Hart Lane next summer.

O’Neill has had a ’20m transfer kitty made available by Villa’s new American owner Randy Lerner ‘ and he is determined to add some essential quality to his squad.

The Villa boss knows players of Keane’s ability are required if he is to move the Midlands club further forward.

Referees taken to task

John Hartson, West Brom’s Welsh striker, has taken a swipe at the standard of referees.

He believes officials are affecting the way the game is played, claiming: “I just think they are trying to take out all contact.”

Hartson, renowned for his robust style of play, added: “They are terrible. I think they have a difficult job but I think they are awful. They get so many decisions wrong. They rile players because I don’t think they totally understand the game.”

But he admitted: “Some are better than others.”

FA faces

kick in the teeth

Premier League bosses and club chairmen are ready to kick the FA into touch as they re-brand the richest league in the world.

Plans aimed at taking the ruling body’s name out of the competition are set to kick into place at the start of next season.

The plan was presented at a chairmen’s meeting by chief executive Richard Scudamore and received unanimous backing.

One Premiership chairman confirmed: “We want the FA to relinquish control to stop them acting like an unofficial police force. Steve McClaren’s England appointment and the new Wembley fiasco had Premiership chairman squirming and they want to distance themselves from the FA.”

I blew it: O’Neill

Martin O’Neill has admitted he blew his chances of being England manager because he failed his interview.

FA chiefs spoke to O’Neill last season ‘before he took over at Aston Villa.

But the Irishman admitted: “I obviously did not answer the questions in the fashion they wanted me to. I failed the interview. There is really not much more to say about it.”

November 2006
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