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By ESPN Staff

LMA calls for an end to the Eriksson furore

The League Managers' Association today called for closure on the controversy surrounding their president, the England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Aston Villa manager David O'Leary yesterday issued an angry statement, via the LMA's official website, condemning Eriksson's comments to a Sunday newspaper journalist posing as an Arab sheikh.

The Swede suggested the `fake sheikh' buy Villa and install him as manager while Eriksson was also reported to have made indiscreet remarks about several senior England players including David Beckham, Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan today claimed Eriksson should be sacked, but the LMA want to draw a line drawn under the furore.

A statement released by the LMA read: 'In the light of recent media coverage, the League Managers' Association wishes to clarify its position.

'It is true that after a Sunday newspaper article about the England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, we discussed the situation.

'These observations will remain entirely confidential but we can confirm that very positive conversations have taken place with Howard Wilkinson, John Barnwell and FA chief executive Brian Barwick.

'The LMA wishes to reiterate its total support and backing for England in this year's 2006 World Cup.

'A successful performance by England is of paramount importance to everyone connected with football in this country.

'Our managers will continue to give Sven and the FA their complete support and backing as they have done consistently over many years.'

O'Leary had fumed: 'It's not acceptable the national coach speaks publicly about replacing another manager whilst he is in the post.

'I've given Sven every co-operation whenever he has asked and even supported the early finish to the season to allow more time for his World Cup preparation.

'I will of course continue to give the necessary co-operation, but want recorded my dissatisfaction and disappointment at his comments.'

Wigan chairman Whelan is adamant Eriksson should be fired.

'I have criticised Eriksson in the past but there should be no way back from this,' Whelan told the Manchester Evening News.

'It is an absolute scandal, a disgrace. You simply do not expect the England manager to openly discuss his future plans and to air his views about what he thinks about players in his squad.

'He has broken one of the game's golden rules. It is gross misconduct and the man has to go.'

Eriksson refused to answer journalists' questions about the controversy today when he arrived to launch a South London football project with partner Nancy Dell'Olio at his side.

The Football for Unity project aims to promote tolerance between children of different backgrounds and faiths and is part of the campaigning organisation Truth International's Football for Peace campaign.

Eriksson said: 'We are here for children and Truth, nothing else.'

After a short break, Eriksson and Ms Dell'Olio looked more relaxed as they posed for photos with some of the youngsters taking part in the project at Eltham Green Specialist Sports College, in Eltham, south east London.

More than 100 children from local schools took part.

Eltham Labour MP Clive Efford thanked the England manager and his partner for supporting the scheme. He also praised the school for its high standards.

He added, addressing Eriksson: 'We wish you as a team every success, particularly in the summer, and to those detractors who want to undermine those endeavours, we want to send a strong message to those that we all want a very successful England side.'

Eriksson then appeared at the FA's headquarters in Soho Square at 1pm.

The England boss again refused to answer any questions as he entered the building.

Press and camera crews were assembled in Soho Square with Luton boss Mike Newell called to a meeting with FA chief executive Brian Barwick following his claims that a `bung' culture still exists in football.