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By ESPN Staff

City decide against Keane legal action

Manchester City have decided not to pursue any legal action regarding Roy Keane's tackle on Alfie Haaland in the 2001 Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

City released a statement on their website which read: 'Some time ago Alfie Haaland and Manchester City announced that they were investigating the possibility of bringing proceedings arising out of Roy Keane's tackle on Alfie Haaland in the derby game of the 21st of April 2001.

'The clearest advice from leading council was that Roy Keane's tackle and subsequent autobiography provided very strong evidence for the basis of a claim, by both the player and the club against Roy Keane and Manchester United.

'However, before proceedings could be commenced it was necessary to analyse the club's special legal position further and of course it was necessary to establish the nature of the damage caused by the tackle.

'The necessary medical and consequential legal advice has been received and carefully reviewed. The conclusion is that it would be difficult for Manchester City to take action on medical grounds.

'For this reason, Manchester City will not be pursuing any legal action arising out of the tackle on the 21st of April 2001. Alfie Haaland is continuing to take legal advice on his claim in view of the differing issues and burden of proof.

'Manchester City emphasise their disappointment at the sentiments expressed by Roy Keane regarding Alfie Haaland in his autobiography.'

In his book, Keane referred to his infamous knee-high tackle and indicated it was motivated by revenge, having spent a year on the sidelines recovering from cruciate knee ligament damage sustained after trying to trip Haaland in a match against the Norwegian's former club Leeds.

'I'd waited almost 180 minutes for Alfie,' he said. 'I'd waited long enough. I hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that.'

The comments raised the ire of the Football Association, who subsequently banned Keane for five matches and fined the 31-year-old a record £150,000 after finding him guilty of two disrepute charges.

However, even that punishment was surrounded with controversy as Keane was recovering from his career-threatening hip surgery throughout the duration of his ban.

Haaland's career looks to be over after Manchester City confirmed there was no chance of the Norwegian recovering from his long-standing knee injury. Blues chairman David Bernstein broke the bad news to Haaland today after confirming the 'agonising' decision with the rest of the City board.

Haaland, whose contract was due to run until 2005, must now decide if he will press on with his legal fight and at the same time try to salvage a career which appears certain to come to a premature end this summer after City activated a clause in the midfielder's contract which allows them to offer a six-month notice period if medical advice suggests he will not play again.

'I saw Alfie today and discussed this with him and it was not an easy conversation,' Bernstein said. 'The whole thing has been incredibly sad. Alfie worked very, very hard to get himself fit and this decision has not been arrived at easily.

'It's very difficult for Alfie and very difficult for us but it is my responsibility to get a proper balance on these things and protect the club's interests. My colleagues and I have agonised over this decision but I believe we have allowed sufficient time to pass.'

Haaland has completed just 48 minutes of first-team action since Keane's horrific tackle, which the player felt had aggravated a long-standing injury on his other knee.

After visiting top surgeons across the globe, Haaland was optimistic he would return, although hope has started to fade as the months went by without any sign of a full recovery.

The player will continue to have access to physio and rehabilitation programmes through the club until August but unless he confounds expert medical advice, Haaland will not play competitively again.

'We have been advised that it is going to be difficult for Alfie to regain fitness and play first-team football,' admitted Bernstein. 'Alfie has played hardly any football in nearly two years and over that period we have been supportive both medically and financially.

'We have taken top advice from all over the world - the USA, Scandinavia and in the UK - and I believe we have done everything we can to support Alfie.

'We have taken a very difficult decision to terminate arrangements with him. We will meet the full terms of that notice and of course during that period he will be a player at the club and free to use the facilities.'