Bohemians may pay for axing Kenny


SOCCER/News round-up: Stephen Kenny has paid a high price for his side's UEFA Cup defeat by Levadia Tallinn at Dalymount Park when Bohemians dismissed him at a meeting in Phibsborough yesterday and installed Gary Howlett as caretaker manager until a decision on a long-term replacement is taken.

"There had been some disquiet for quite a while, particularly about our home form so it wasn't simply a knee-jerk reaction to what happened on Tuesday night," said club secretary Gerry Cuffe.

"The defeat in Europe was a major blow to us, though," he added. "When we sit down to work out the figures for next season we would have hoped to be factoring in a significant amount of money from our involvement in Europe. That's not going to be the case now and clearly that has ramifications."

In fact, the club's board will meet this evening to consider the entire question of the club's finances and just about everything, says Cuffe, is up for discussion.

"We've made huge strides in recent years, but that progress has come at a large cost. The reality is that we need significant investment if we are to continue moving forward."

Cuffe insisted that the identity of the club's next manager is another thing that will be discussed this evening and, he insists, "no decision has been made at this point, certainly nobody was lined up for the job when we made our decision with regard to Stephen.

"The situation was simply that the board feels that we have to look somewhere else for a manager to bring us forward."

Major policy decisions will clearly have to be taken before any successor is appointed for 12 of the club's professionals, including Kevin Hunt, Glen Crowe and Colin Hawkins are out of contract at the end of the current season and the club has recently deflected attempts to discuss new deals, making it clear that the long-term position of Kenny had to be clarified first.

In fact, the manager says he recently signed a two-year extension to his own contract and this is likely to form the basis of a claim for substantial compensation package, the terms of which will be discussed today.

If a desire to rein in costs is a significant factor in his sacking now, then his departure is a major setback for a man widely regarded as the country's best young manager just three years ago after he had led Longford Town to promotion and an FAI Cup final.

Last night, Kenny, who arrived at Dalymount in December 2001 and led the club to the league championship 14 months later, said he was disappointed with the situation.

"I thought it was a harsh decision," he remarked. "When I arrived the club was ninth in the table and most of its best players were leaving. My remit was to win the league within the first two seasons and we did that.

"This season we're in third place and if we win our next two games we'd be four points behind Shelbourne.

"We're into the next round of the FAI cup and we're in the final of the League Cup so I thought I could have been given until the end of the season at the very least.

"Still," he added, "that's the business I'm in I suppose. I enjoyed my time at Bohemians. Working with lads like (Glen) Crowe and Kevin (Hunt) and all of the rest of that squad was fantastic. The fact is that I just have to get on with things now."

Yesterday Dublin City manager Roddy Collins made an audacious €20,000 bid for Crowe ahead of tonight's league match against St Patrick's Athletic, his first match in charge.

Meanwhile, Jacques Santini's dreadful luck in pre-season continued with another injury - this time Robbie Keane - in Tottenham's friendly against Rangers last night

The Irish star was stretchered off after 28 minutes of a high-octane "warm-up match" in front of over 35,000 fans at Ibrox.

Keane, on target at Sheffield United on Sunday, suffered an ankle injury when Rangers defender Marvin Andrews blocked his attempted shot.

He signalled to the bench straight away, clutching his ankle, and the medical team soon waved for a stretcher. He was carried off with his right leg stabilised in a protective brace.

Steve McClaren has reassured his Middlesbrough players that he has no intention of abandoning them in order to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson as England coach.

With rumours intensifying that Eriksson may be sacked next week, McClaren is understood to have addressed the issue at Middlesbrough's training ground, stressing that his medium-term future is with the League Cup holders.

And Real Madrid have distanced themselves from the possibility that the France midfielder Patrick Vieira will make a £22 million switch to the Spanish giants.

Real Madrid's director of sport Emilio Butragueno yesterday described reports that Real are close to signing the 28-year-old Arsenal captain as "a bit excessive".