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.”