AFTER weeks of speculation, Brian McClair finally became assistant manager to Brian Kidd at Blackburn Rovers last night, writes Darryl Broadfoot.

Earlier in the day it was reported that the deal was ready to founder as his club, Motherwell, sought sufficient compensation from the Ewood Park club. However, ''an undisclosed sum'' changed hands, and a friendly fixture between the two sides negotiated for a later date, allowing the former Celtic, Manchester United, and Scotland striker to cut his coaching teeth in the English Premiership, arguably the most competitive league in the world.

Fir Park chairman John Boyle remained upbeat despite losing his club's captain: ''We are sad to lose someone of the calibre of Brian McClair, but we wish him the best in what is undoubtedly a superb career opportunity.''

Pat Nevin, chief executive/player at the Lanarkshire club, suggested that ''the move was a good one for Brian, so he really had to do the right thing.''

McClair has not enjoyed the best of times since rejoining Motherwell after spending 11 glorious years at Old Trafford alongside Kidd. The 35-year-old failed to find his best form this season, with a series of niggling injuries largely to blame.

However, Nevin observed that, after McClair recovering from a hamstring injury, he did appear to be nearer full fitness in training, although he failed to reclaim his place in the team, which has climbed up the league under new manager Billy Davies. ''The final decision was with Brian and he knew what to do, but the team is looking quite strong at the moment.''

qThe president of the Football Association of Wales has defiantly refused to accept any responsibility for the cash-for-votes scandal at Lancaster Gate.

John Hughes insists the FAW have done ''nothing wrong whatsoever'' and says that nobody on the council will follow FA chief executive Graham Kelly in resigning.

Hughes also expressed his surprise over comments made by former Welsh team manager Terry Yorath, who said that ''every member of the Welsh Football Association should resign lock, stock and barrel. They have been doing an embarrassing job for years.''

Yorath believes that the Welsh FA are now faced with an irretrievable financial situation in having decided to accept the gift from the FA.

Hughes countered: ''I don't see why any of them should resign. I'm of the firm belief that nobody at the Football Association of Wales has done anything wrong whatsoever.

''We accepted the money in the spirit in which it was given, for the benefit not of the FA of Wales but for the betterment of football in Wales and football in the community. The current board were elected just three months ago at our tri-annual meeting - we are a democratically elected council who were elected by the clubs themselves.

''If the clubs feel it was unjust, it's up to them to decide if they want to make their own expressions to us. People can say what they like but I'm very surprised by Yorath, because I was a firm believer in him and he had my full support.''

The Huddersfield first-team coach reckons there is only one way forward and that is for the FAW to take a more professional approach and attitude, with someone of the calibre of former Wales manager and current Wolves scout Mike Smith given a high-profile role. Yorath added: ''I would like it to be more professional, with people who know what they are talking about, who know about football, who know about running football, and who are closer to the professional game in Wales.

''I would like somebody like Mike Smith to be involved. He is fully qualified to do anything the Welsh FA could possibly do.

''He is well organised and has enough contacts, which would help him do a great job for them.''

Meanwhile, former FA chairman Sir Bert Millichip has declared that the Football Association needs a ''massive overhaul'' in the wake of the crisis gripping the game's governing body. The resignation of Kelly has left a long-term power void that is set to grow next month when chairman Keith Wiseman is expected to be forced out of office.

Describing the present structure as ''Victorian'' ormer FA chairman Sir Bert believes the time is ripe for the FA to recover from this week's bodyblows by implementing the long-overdue changes he failed to introduce during his years in charge.

qPROOF that Sunderland are a shining example of English football success came last night when the first division leaders attracted a crowd of 20,583 to the Stadium of Light for their reserve league match at home to Manchester United, who they defeated 2-0.