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TO ELLAND BACK WITH FOXES BOSS.

Frustrated Martin O'Neill yesterday closed the door on Leeds United and opted to stay as Leicester City boss.

But he admitted he's angry with his current employers for refusing him the chance to even talk about going to Elland Road.

And he stressed: "The phrase `gentlemen's agreement' will now be disappearing from my vocabulary."

Grim-faced O'Neill sat beside Leicester chairman John Elsom at a Filbert Street press conference and made no attempt to hide his frustration at the club's refusal to grant Leeds permission to talk to him.

Leeds now look certain to invite caretaker boss David O'Leary to succeed George Graham.

Elsom announced that O'Neill has now been offered a two-year extension to his contract, which is due to run out in 2000.

But the Irishman, who insists a gentlemen's agreement that he can talk to other clubs was made in the summer, won't sign until he has studied it very carefully.

He said: "I've been denied the opportunity to go and speak to a club and it rankles with me.

"Foolish me, who once studied law for a living. I should've realised an unwritten agreement is precisely that.

"Leeds might not have offered me the job, though I would have been disappointed if that had happened.

"But it's something I don't want to take any further. The important thing now is that the decision has been made."

Asked about the new contract, O'Neill ruefully replied: "I'm going to insert about 194 clauses, get them written down and get them sorted."

O'Neill's relationship with Elsom has clearly been strained by the Leeds affair.

He said: "If you ask me whether I'd go out for dinner with him again, as I did a few times before this, then the answer is no."

Elsom said: "We disagree on the gentlemen's agreement - I didn't believe that there was one.

"The words that we said to each other are confidential, but I didn't interpret them in the way he did."

O'Neill explained: "I had a conversation with John and Sir Rodney Walker (plc chairman) on Sunday and both felt there was a different interpretation

"John accepts my interpretation of it. I'm not totally sure I've accepted John's."

Asked if he would insist that the new contract included a clause allowing him to speak to other clubs, O'Neill said: "That's something we'd have to discuss with John. That's important."

Explaining why he opted to stay, O'Neill said the fans' show of support on Monday, when Leicester beat Tottenham 2-1, had played a part, as had the loyalty of his players.

He said: "I made the decision to stay because the alternatives weren't palatable. Walking out on a contract is something I didn't want to do.

"The only contract I've ever left was at Norwich, where I spent six months with Mr (Robert) Chase.

"Those people who know me will tell you that one of the reasons I couldn't get a result to save my life when I first came to Leicester was because it was still playing on my mind."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Gardner, John
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 22, 1998
Words:506
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