Last updated : 26 January 2004 By Editor
Below are 4 items from Sunday’s news, in case you were busy
mowing the lawn, washing the car, reading the paper or
travelling to Northampton.


The Observer claim that Coolmore have wrote to United to ask them to stop Fergie's contract talks but United speak to say that they 'are keen to secure his services'

The civil war at Manchester United has intensified with a call by John Magnier and JP McManus, the Irish tycoons who own 25 per cent of the club, for a halt to contract negotiations with manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The demand by the Irishmen came in the form of a recent letter from their company, Cubic Expression, to Sir Roy Gardner, the chairman of the United holding company. Magnier and McManus want Gardner to stop talk with Ferguson on the terms of his new contract - believed to be worth millions of pounds – while the United directors carry out a probe into his business affairs, and especially his dealings with his football agent son Jason. Last night a spokesman for the club rejected the Irish call, and said that talks will carry on - and if anything would be accelerated: 'We value his [Ferguson's] services, and we are very keen to secure his services for a further period.' A deal between Ferguson and David Gill, the United chief executive, is expected shortly, said the spokesman.

But last night there was speculation that only a one-year contract would be on offer, despite the Manchester United manager hoping to agree a deal that would be worth £4m a year and extend his reign to 2007. The current deal runs out
in 2005.

Relations between Gardner and Ferguson on one side, and the Irish shareholders on the other are at an all-time low. The club has accused them of a 'dirty tricks' campaign against Ferguson, in which they used the corporate sleuthing agency Kroll Associates to dig up skeletons from his past and
blacken his name.

The Irish, and Kroll, deny this. The Sunday Times writes today that Coolmore have also wrote to United expressing concern about transfer dealings - see the related story.


Fergie says that we shouldn't believe what we read and that he is 'not far away' from sorting out the bits and bobs on the contract

"We were going over a few details on Friday morning, David Gill and I, and we are not far away and hopefully we can get it done quickly. The quicker we can get it signed the better. That's what I think, and David shares that view. "There is a lot of nonsense being written. I don't concern myself over these things. Nothing has changed on the contract situation it's only the wee things we are talking about.

"We would like to get it done and put to bed, from my perspective and from the club's perspective because the publicity doesn't do anyone any good."


We were expecting News International to go for Fergie today and they have with more accusations about United's dealings. The Sunday Times claims that Coolmore have written to the O.T. board to question the amount of money paid out to agents when players are bought by United.

The paper quotes one letter to United chairman Sir Roy Gardner as saying: "What we cannot understand is the necessity for the relative secrecy in which agents conduct their role and the astonishing fees which have been charged
to the company."

The Sunday Times claim to have seen another letter dated 21st January: “Once again we invite you to respond providing proper explanations concerning the matters raised and we invite the board to reconsider its position. No further
steps should be taken while these matters remain outstanding. . . In the meantime we reserve all our rights as shareholders to take such action as we may be advised.”

However, United have dismissed any fears of wrongdoing involving agents. A club statement said: "All transfer negotiations are conducted by the executive directors of the club with legal advisers. In common with all football clubs,
we often work with Fifa-registered agents.

"Any fees to agents are disclosed to the Premier League and, with effect from the current transfer window, to the Stock Exchange."

The News of The World have another back page story in which they accuse United of paying way over the odds for Ronaldo. They also say that they wrote to United and asked the following questions but just received this reply: "All our
transfers are done in accordance with FIFA and FA regulations. There will be no further comment."
The NOTW said their questions included:

Why did United pay so much for Ronaldo?

Why was English agent Tom Hendry elbowed from the deal at the last minute?

Why do United need agents to represent them in deals?

Was Francis Martin, of Elite involved in the Ricardo deal?

Was anyone from Elite involved in the Saha purchase?

In addition, it appears that politicians want to get involved now. Alan Keen MP told The Sunday Mirror: "We would like to look at all the deals that have made the news recently.

"Agents seem to be one of the most unsavoury aspects of the game and I have not met anyone in football who is in favour of them.

"We want the authorities to put it right and we need as much transparency in the game as possible."


The FA confirms that they have not received any evidence to suggest that there was any wrongdoing over Kleberson.

From The Sunday Pink:

FA spokesman Nick Barron said: "To my knowledge we have not received anything in relation to this.

"If we are shown evidence we will look at it, but even that would not necessarily lead to an investigation."