Venables offered new deal


Soccer Australia, picking up the pieces after their team's shattering elimination from the World Cup, yesterday moved to extend Terry Venables's coaching contract. Venables, who has galvanised the game in Australia in his 11month unbeaten reign in 14 internationals, arrives in England today and has yet to indicate his future plans beyond next month's Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia. He confirmed after Saturday's stunning `loss' to Iran on away goals in a 2-2 second leg encounter before a record 85,000 crowd, that he would be taking the Australian team to Saudi Arabia.

Australia are due to play Mexico, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, all of whom have qualified for France '98, in the December 10th-21st tournament.

Beyond that is up for conjecture as Soccer Australia chief David Hill attempts to tie down the former England manager to an extended contract beyond his 18month, £350,000 deal, which expires in July next year.

Asked whether he would accept the latest offer, Venables said yesterday: "I really don't know. It's not the right time at the moment."