Cooper returns to County

Birmingham are at an advanced stage in discussions with a
mystery Hong Kong party interested in a takeover of the
Championship club.

The board of Birmingham International Holdings Limited (BIHL),
City’s parent company, today told the Stock Exchange they are in
talks with two parties from Hong Kong and one from the UK –
believed to be Gianni Paladini’s Italian-backed consortium.

The former QPR chairman was understood to be leading the chase,
although Blues’ acting chairman Peter Pannu last week poured cold
water on claims from Paladini that their takeover deal could be
agreed within 10 days.

A statement from BIHL read: “As previously announced on
September 21 and October 9, the board has been approached by
several prospective buyers who had shown interest in the purchase
of BCFC, which is the company’s sole operating assets.

“Given the fact that confidential non-disclosure agreements had
been entered into with three of the parties who are still in
pursuit, two in Kong Kong and one in the United Kingdom, it is
inappropriate to divulge detailed information of the status of the
negotiations.

“The board wishes to inform the shareholders that the criteria
that the board shall adopt in this disposal would be to identify a
new owner who could take BCFC to the next level both in terms of
their financial standing, business acumen and overall suitability
and the nature of their offer and the overall terms of the
offer.

“A balance will be struck between what is the most beneficial
for the shareholders and what is the most appropriate for the
development of BCFC as the board acknowledges that football is a
business where, inter alia, the aspirations of the fans need to be
considered.”

The statement added: “The negotiation with one of the parties in
Hong Kong is at an advanced stage although no conditional binding
agreement has been entered into between the parties.

“The transaction, if it proceeds, will constitute a very
substantial disposal transaction by the company under the listing
rules and will be subject to the approval of the shareholders in a
general meeting.

“A detailed announcement will be made as and when
appropriate.”

A first offer from Paladini’s consortium, believed to be around
?25million, was rejected in September.

Meanwhile, current owner and Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung,
who is currently unable to leave the Far East, will still face
court on November 28 over alleged money laundering after today
seeing a bid to delay the case rejected.

The Steelmen’s impressive 5-1 win at Inverness last weekend took
them up to fourth in the table but their healthy league position is
no thanks to their home form.

Motherwell supporters have enjoyed only one victory in
Lanarkshire this season, a 4-1 SPL win against Inverness in
September, but McCall is looking for his players to improve that
record against the Jambos.

“We scored three at Aberdeen and St Johnstone and two at
Kilmarnock and Dundee, so we haven’t had a problem scoring goals on
our travels,” he said.

“The performances at home have been similar to the away
performances, it’s just that we haven’t got the first goal or
scored when we have been on top.

“Looking back at games against Hibs, Dundee United and Dundee,
we had excellent opportunities to take the lead but didn’t, be it
through bad finishing, good goalkeeping or decisions against
us.

“But we know home results have not been good enough and we have
got to look to change that.

“It’s not as black and white as getting the first goal but it
would certainly help, there is no doubt about that.

“I think we had 72 per cent possession against Dundee and
chances and they break down the park and score and all of a sudden
the crowd get a bit tense, the players get slightly anxious so it
would be nice to go ahead in games at home.

“That wouldn’t mean to say we would down tools and think it was
all over because that wouldn’t be the case, the games are that
tight.

“Between us and Hearts three or four weeks ago, it was a 25-yard
screamer that split the teams, there was nothing between the
sides.

“So it would be nice to nick a 1-0 when it was a tight
game.”

McCall has begun to look towards next season in terms of his
squad, “starting with the younger ones” but admits he does not yet
know what budget will be available.

Chris Humphrey is one player who is out of contract in the
summer but the 25-year-old Jamaica winger would be keen to extend
his stay in Lanarkshire.

“If they want to sit down and talk to me, I would be happy to do
that,” said the former Shrewsbury Town player.

“But I haven’t heard anything yet.

“I love the club. It’s my fourth season here, I have kids and we
are settled, so I would be quite happy to talk.”

Pardew was manager at St Mary’s for just over a year and led the
club to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy title, as well as agonisingly
close to the League One play-offs despite a 10-point deduction.

On Sunday the 51-year-old returns to Southampton for the first
time since leaving the club in August 2010, with the hosts now a
Premier League side once again thanks to back-to-back promotions
under Adkins.

The Saints boss still uses several of the players brought in by
the now Newcastle manager, but insists he does not having anything
to thank him for.

“I don’t think I owe him any debt [of gratitude] at all,” Adkins
said. “Whatever situation arose, he moved on. I am the manager of
Southampton Football Club.

“We’ve just had back-to-back promotions, we’re doing ever so
well in our forward progression.

“We’re trying to make sure the youngsters come through the
system here at Southampton.

“To have James Ward-Prowse, Ben Reeves and now Luke Shaw into
the first-team is very rewarding.”

Southampton fans are expected to give Pardew a warm reception
upon his return but Adkins will not be treating him differently to
any other visiting manager.

“We always welcome the opposition manager, whoever it is, to St
Mary’s,” he said. “When the whistle blows, then it is go to win a
game of football.

“Afterwards we always invite them in for a drink. We’ve done
that consistently. It doesn’t matter who the manager is, that is
what we’ve always done and what we will continue to do.”

Southampton head into Sunday’s match 19th in the Premier League
but with a chance of jumping out of the relegation zone.

Saints will be looking to build on their victory last weekend at
Loftus Road, where they condemned QPR, the only side below them, to
an embarrassing 3-1 defeat.

The result proved the final straw for the west Londoners’
hierarchy, who today sacked manager Mark Hughes and seem set to
replace him with Harry Redknapp.

“We’ve lost a couple of managers in the Barclays Premier League
this week and I don’t think it matters if you’re at the top of the
bottom,” Adkins said of the decision.

“Every position is going to be under scrutiny. That’s a shame
but the reality of being in this league.”

Some had suggested in the build-up to last week’s game that
Adkins himself could have lost his job had the game gone the other
way – suggestions the Saints boss today laughed off.

“I’ve had nothing but support from the chairman, Nicola
Cortese,” he said.

“We don’t need to document anything about it. We’ve been very
successful over the last couple of years.

“We are very demanding of each other but very supportive and I
think that’s the important thing.

“We have a stability here at Southampton. I think you have to
demanding as that means you can keep raising the bar on standards
throughout the football club.

“But you’ve got to be supportive as well and I think that’s what
we’ve got here.”

Cooper spent six years at the helm of the Highland club between
1996 and 2002.

The ex-Aberdeen and Rangers player was most recently in charge
at Hartlepool United, where he had a couple of spells as
manager.

Adams was pleased to see Cooper back at the Dingwall outfit as
part of a restructuring of the backroom team.

He told the club’s website: “We’ve got an extremely small staff
here at Ross County and it is vital that we have a structure in
place and have the right people in place to take the players, team
and indeed the club forward.

“Neale is someone that I’ve known for a number of years and
having had him join us for a couple of days of training it was
obvious his qualities complemented what we already had in place
here, so I’m delighted that he’s agreed to join us.”

Cooper will be in the dugout for Saturday’s match against Dundee
United.

The visit of the Tayside club is the first of two back-to-back
home fixtures for County, with St Mirren making the trip north
midweek, and Adams is keen to make home advantage count.

He said: “We’ve been on our travels for eight out of 14 games in
the SPL and we’ve got two home games now.

“Dundee United are a very good side. I watched them against
Kilmarnock and they have excellent attacking players. We’re in for
an exciting match.

“The players here enjoy playing in the big occasions and we’ve
done exceptionally well against Aberdeen and Hibs in the recent
home games.

“United are a team who can cause any team problems on their day.
They did well against Celtic recently as well.

“We’re just looking to put the onus on Dundee United and
hopefully we can come away with a win.”