FOOTBALL: Ferguson in attack on wage greed

ALEX FERGUSON, the Manchester United manager, yesterday criticised the wages spiral that he believes is in danger of crippling the game.

Ferguson, whose club were recently ranked as the richest in the world, warned that the increase in players' salaries sparked by the Bosman ruling is hurting fans as well as clubs, and could lead to the loss of a generation of supporters.

"What you have now is a free-for-all so far as wages are concerned," Ferguson said. "It is a serious concern now whether clubs can afford to pay the kind of money which is being talked about. If you are to believe some of the sums being bandied about, then the game could die if clubs attempt to meet the demands which are being made.

"We all know of cases where clubs are struggling financially and a great many of the problems - if not almost all of them - stem from the fact that players are asking for salaries which are too high and which will cripple the game permanently unless there is some common sense brought to bear on the whole matter."

Ferguson called on players' unions to "preach reality" to their members involved in contract negotiations. "Honestly, I believe the very future of football is on the line unless we get back to wage negotiations in which players and clubs are comfortable and can talk clearly to each other instead of being hung up on the often nonsensical wage deals which are being asked for nowadays," he said.

Ferguson said, if the freedom of contract given to players by the Bosman ruling was not used more wisely, he had "real fears" for the game's future - from the fans' point of view as well as that of the clubs. "The money to pay the players has to come from somewhere and, inevitably, that means it will come from the pockets of the supporters," he added. "I don't believe we should be continually asking the fans to pay higher prices to see games. It makes it impossible to take the family, so you are losing out on the next generation of supporters."

The Football Association of Wales has decided to appeal against Uefa's controversial decision to ban Wales from playing their European Championship qualifier with Denmark in Cardiff on 9 June.

The Welsh wanted to switch the game from Anfield to Ninian Park, Cardiff, where they believe a partisan crowd will give them a better chance of victory. But they have been told by European football's ruling body that Denmark's objections to the change had been upheld and that the match had to stay at Anfield.

West Ham have welcomed news that the Asian Football Confederation is to investigate confusion over the transfer of the South Korean striker Choi Yong-soo to Upton Park.

The Hammers still insist they know nothing about a reported pounds 4m deal for Choi and his South Korean team-mate, the midfielder Kim Doh-keun, but club officials in South Korea yesterday again claimed that the transfers have been agreed.

West Ham's football secretary, Neil Harrison, said: "No transfer has been discussed and none will be taking place. If we signed every player who trained with us we would have hundreds on the staff."

The former Nottingham Forest striker Kevin Campbell will refuse to play for his Turkish team, Trabzonspor, while world football's governing body investigates his complaints against the club chairman.

Mehmet Ali Yilmaz, the chairman, described Campbell as a "cannibal" and said he was "discoloured" during a recent television interview. The player's agent, Paul Stretford, has referred the matter to Fifa's players' status committee as well as to the Turkish FA.

Toshack's return, page 31

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