The go-ahead Third Division club believes that the Frenchman's
crowd-pulling antics will ensure a full house in the new 1.200 seater stand,
which should be completed by the start of next season.
County believe the fiery former Manchester United star and
French international skipper will give them the final impetus they need to
clinch promotion to the Second Division in their first season at senior level.
Manager Bobby Wilson has secured backing from an unnamed whisky
distillery willing to invest £10 million in return for the publicity the
audacious coup has generated.
An over-the-moon Bobby said last night: "It's a dream come true.
Apparantly there is a little-known loophole that bans him from playing
anywhere in the world - except Scotland - and I am most grateful to Alex
Ferguson for pointing it out.
Eric doesn't meed the money - and we have promised to return him
to Manchester United sometime next season if we are not involved in the
promotion race for the First Division."
Cantona, released yesterday from the threat of a two-week jail
sentence, has been involved in talks with the County management over the past
few weeks and finally put pen to paper yesterday - minutes before the transfer
The attraction for Cantona is that the ban imposed by Manchester
United folowing his two-footed attach on a Crystal Palace support applies only
to English and world football, but not Scotland, which has it's own legal
That leaves him free to play in the Scottish League, where he
fells his style of flowing, attacking football would be ideally suited.
"This move will allow me to keep match fit without having to
move to Italy or Germany" said Cantona. "I have had a couple of approaches
from Scottish clubs, including Aberdeen and Motherwell, but I feel that Ross
County is a club on the rise, with a great atmosphere at home matches.
"I like the fact that the crowd is so close to the touchline. It
is much more intimate than Old Trafford or Selhurst Park. I am sure the
spectators will get a kick out of this transfer and my only regret is that
County have left that Press and Journal Highland League, where I have always
wanted to play."
Wilson, delighted with the signing, has already approached local
schools to inquire about the possibility of his star signing working part-time
as a French teacher to fill in his spare time.
The only stumbling block is the 120 hours community service
imposed by the courts in place of the original prison sentence. Cantona's
lawyers were last night checking whether he would be allowed to perform the
work in Dingwall.
"We feel his experience would be invaluable in advising local
youngsters on how to keep out of trouble. His calming influence could work
wonders," said Wilson. And last night former Dons star Alex McLeish, now
manager of Motherwell, revealed how his Fir Park side had been hoping to land
the explosive Frenchman's signature, unaware that County were in before them
or Aberdeen, the other interested party.
Big Alex said: "We would have loved Cantona at Fir Park, but we
already have three foreigners on the books, and, anyway, he is too similar in
style to Dougie Arnott.
"But Ross County have shown great foresight in bringing Eric
north. I thought we were ambitious at Fir Park, but Bobby Wilson seems to have
trumped us all."
Manchester United legal director Maurice Watkins, Cantona's
solicitor, said the Frenchman will start "at least getting into" his community
service order on Monday.
There is a maximum of 21hr you can do over seven days. I'm sure
they will want to make the best use of his services."
The SFA's Highland and Islands area community development
officer - former Everton, Norwich and Dundee striker Ross Jack - intends to do
He said: "We'll use Eric's talents to the full on out youth
developement programme. Most of the kids involved on the West Coast are Gaelic
speakers, so he won't have any more of a language problem to cope with than I
Press and Journal - April 1st, 1995
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