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May 4, 2006

Butcher tipped for new Sydney FC coach

Former England international Terry Butcher has been revealed as the leading candidate to coach A-League champions Sydney FC next season.

Two days after Pierre Littbarski officially turned down the club's cut-price offer for a second season, chief executive Tim Parker said Sydney had already approached "three or four" overseas candidates for the post with Butcher the No.1 target.

"He's probably the leading candidate and the negotiations are probably the most advanced with him, but there are others," said Parker, who did not want to give a time frame for the appointment but added the club would not rush into making a decision.

Butcher is currently coaching Motherwell in the Scottish premier league.

Parker admitted Sydney began searching for a possible replacement several weeks ago as a back-up plan should Littbarski not accept their offer, reportedly worth at least $250,000 less than his first season $700,000-package.

While former Socceroos coach Frank Farina has been mentioned as a leading contender, Parker said the club was yet to approach any local talent about the position.

"At the moment all the candidates we're looking at are overseas candidates," Parker said.

"There's three or four names in the mix."

Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna has also been mentioned as a possible successor, but has announced he would continue at the Mariners for the next five years.

Sydney's players return to club duties for a team meeting, with pre-season training to begin in earnest on Monday under assistant coach Ian Crook.

Parker said he did not believe Littbarski's departure would affect the club's player retention or recruitment for next season, and was confident it would have no bearing on skipper Dwight Yorke's future with the club.

"We haven't heard from Dwight on this subject, but I think when he sees the people we're looking to replace Pierre with I hope he recognises we're aiming for the same sort of talent," Parker said of Yorke, who still has one year remaining on his contract.

Since turning down the offer, Littbarski has fired a few parting salvos at the club, venting his frustration at not being able to reach a workable agreement while also saying he was "upset the CEO (Parker) earns more money than a lot of the players".

Parker did not want to weigh into a war of words.

"I'm not even going to dignify that with a response, I didn't see the point of it to be honest."

Asked did he think Littbarski and the club had parted on good terms, Parker said: "I would have hoped so.

"His comments today had a certain amount of bitterness about them, but you have to remember Pierre's style. He's a very, very straight shooter. It doesn't mean to say he's bitter or upset, he just says it the way it is.

"It would be very disappointing if we did (part on bad terms) because he's been a fantastic asset to us, and he will always be a huge part of the history of the club."

Farina confirmed he had not yet been approached by the club.

"I haven't heard anything at all from Sydney FC... (but) of course (I would be interested)," Farina told Sydney radio 2KY.

"Sydney's a good side, they're the reigning champions. I don't think there'd be anyone who likes coaching or is interested in coaching who wouldn't be interested in the job."