Saturday's City stories from the press

Last updated : 08 June 2003 By Michael Morris
Earnie a Euro target

SPANISH and German clubs are tracking Cardiff City's record-breaking goalscorer Robert Earnshaw.

They kept a close watch on Earnshaw last season as he plundered 35 goals and led the Bluebirds into Division One.

Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid plus Cologne and Hamburg have all enquired about Earnshaw - and all of them are willing to offer £4m-plus.

"There has been strong interest from around Europe," said a source close to Cardiff City.

The Bluebirds remain adamant they will not sell any of their leading young players and owner Sam Hammam refuses even to discuss the subject.

"It's an insult to even ask the question," said Hammam. "Don't ring again unless you have something worthwhile-to discuss." Earnshaw attracted interest throughout Europe last season as he fired goals for Cardiff City and Wales --and a video of his top goals was circulated in Spain, Italy and Germany.
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Lennie poised for Dons swap

CARDIFF CITY boss Lennie Lawrence is poised to swoop for Wimbledon's hottest youngsters after the London club was placed into administration yesterday.

The Dons, once owned by Bluebirds chief Sam Hammam, have been plunged into a financial crisis because of a decline in home gates and a controversial switch to a new home in Milton Keynes which has angered fans.

But Lawrence, looking to bolster his squad for next season's assault on Division One, has the perfect opportunity to acquire the ailing club's most promising talent.

The 55-year-old has made no secret of the fact he rates four Wimbledon players - midfielders Nigel Reo-Coker, Lionel Morgan and Damien Francis as well as forward Joel McAnuff.

Speaking before the end of last season, he said, "Sam (Hammam) and I have been to Wimbledon a few times and they have some excellent young players."

But City's elevation to the First Division last month combined with Wimbledon's financial problems means Lawrence could tempt some - or all - of those players to Ninian Park.
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Young referee's being recruited.

CARDIFF City hope to counteract football's shortage of men in the middle with the launch Britain's the first youth academy for referees, writes Gavin Allen.

The club has organised a referees training course in partnership with the South Wales Football Association which is open to boys and girls aged from 14-21 and is free of charge.

Each budding referee will be given the chance to officiate for at least one season of Cardiff's Centre of Excellence matches at Ninian Park, from under-nine to under-15 levels.

The course is believed to be the first of it's kind in Britain and is the brainchild of the Bluebirds Youth Development Administrator Bill Jones.

"This is a way of getting people involved in refereeing because at the moment there is a desperate shortage," said Jones.

"We start youth matches at under-nine level so the under-14s referees could officiate at the under-nines games in a safe environment, away from the abuse that referees can suffer which puts them off doing the job.
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City old boys can make a new side

THE prospect of beginning the 2003-04 football season without a club is a very real prospect for hundreds of out-of-contract players, but a solution could be at hand.

With 750 pros currently registered with the PFA as free agents or under contract but open to offers, there are more players looking for work than ever before - and not all will find new homes.

As you look down the list of available players you notice it's possible to assemble a Cardiff City old boys squad so perhaps a way forward would be for the free agents to assemble into `old boy' teams and play each other to allow scouts to asses their talents.

Perhaps regional teams would enable players to keep costs down as they struggle without wages coming in and the teams could play in a free agents tournament during the summer.

With Bluebirds boss Lennie Lawrence releasing 11 players this summer you could make an ex-Cardiff side from this summer's Ninian Park departures alone.

But there are enough ex-Bluebirds flying around the divisions to field a team that could probably hold its own in the Third Division.
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