Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Canaries perch at top of division one

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL The game before 23,223 fans had little high quality but plenty of incident between the teams in the top two automatic promotion places

AP , NORWICH AND LONDON, ENGLAND AND MADRID, SPAIN

Real Madrid Brazilian football player Ronaldo during a press conference in Madrid, Tuesday. Ronaldo has extended his contract at Real Madrid to 2008.

PHOTO: AFP

Norwich and West Bromwich Albion fought out a 0-0 tie on Tuesday as the Canaries stayed three points ahead of the Baggies at the top of division one.

Norwich defender Craig Fleming was lucky not to give away a penalty at Carrow Road when he stopped a goalbound shot by Delroy Facey with his arm with goalkeeper Robert Green way off his line.

But Albion defender James Chambers should have been sent off for upending Darren Huckerby when the Norwich striker was chasing towards goal. The referee ruled it no foul.

West Brom's Welsh international Jason Koumas twice shaved the Norwich post with low shots while Canaries striker Damien Francis headed straight at goalkeeper Russell Hoult from close range.

The result gives Norwich 64 points from 33 games with 13 more to play and West Brom 61 from 34. Last season Albion was relegated from the Premier League.

Among other teams chasing places in the top flight, Sheffield United edged Millwall 2-1, West Ham was held 1-1 at Burnley and Ipswich lost 2-0 at Stoke.

The Blades victory over Millwall moved Neil Warnock's team up three places to fourth.

Down at the bottom, Nottingham Forest moved four points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory at last place Wimbledon.

In other division one games, it was Cardiff 0, Coventry 1; Preston 2, Reading 1 while four other games were called off because the playing surfaces were frozen.

Ken Bates, who bought Chelsea for a pound and sold his controlling shares to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for US$32.3 million, quit as the club's chairman on Tuesday.

The outspoken Londoner, who was in charge of the club for 22 years and appointed nine different managers, was reported to have made the announcement to a small gathering of Blues fans at a dinner at Stamford Bridge.

Under Bates, 72, Chelsea was transformed from a colorful but underachieving club to a high profile enterprise under the umbrella of his Chelsea Village, which included restaurants, shops and a hotel on the same site.

He did not understate his own achievements.

"I put in 70 hours a week," he once said, "and quite honestly, Chelsea could not pay me what I am worth."

But it was heavily in debt by the time he sold his shares to Abramovich last July, the Russian wiping out debts of US$152 million and then spending US$228 million on 13 new players.

On Tuesday Chelsea took that spending to US$251 million by agreeing to buy Dutch winger Arjen Robben from PSV Eindhoven at the end of the season.

Bates told fans during a question and answer session on Tuesday that he had been determined to make a "clean break" from the club so as not to outstay his welcome.

Last month he was replaced by American lawyer Bruce Buck as chairman of the Chelsea Village parent company.

Bates frequently hit out at FIFA, the Football Association and rival chairmen and managers during his spell at Chelsea.

Getting real in madrid

Ronaldo signed a two-year contract extension with Real Madrid to 2008, the Spanish club announced Tuesday.

Ronaldo's previous deal ran through 2006, with an option for another season, but the new contract means the Brazilian striker expects to stay at the club until he is nearly 32.

"I'm delighted with the new contract because I feel very good at the club and in the city," Ronaldo told the club Web site. "The club showed interest in renewing my contract and I, with great pleasure, immediately accepted."

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