JON CULLEY AND PHIL SHAW
Lars Bohinen, the Norwegian international, agreed to leave Nottingham Forest for Blackburn Rovers yesterday to the accompaniment of an outspoken broadside from his dismayed former manager, who accused him of exploiting Forest's goodwill for his own personal gain.
The 29-year-old midfield player, for whom Forest might have asked pounds 2m at today's market values, will move to Ewood Park next week subject to a medical for a cut-price pounds 700,000, as a result of a sell-on stipulation in his contract with the Nottingham club.
But Frank Clark, the Forest manager, in a rare show of anger, attacked Bohinen for putting money ahead of loyalty. He will more than double his income by joining the struggling Premiership champions. This follows months of negotiations in which the player and his former representative, Andy Gross, a Swiss lawyer, are thought to have demanded pounds 500,000 for the cancellation of the sell-on clause, which limited Forest to pounds 250,000 profit on the pounds 450,000 they paid Young Boys of Berne for Bohinen almost two years ago. Bohinen's deal with Forest gave him the right to a transfer at any time to any club prepared to pay the pounds 700,000 fee.
Clark, choosing his words carefully, said: "Lars is not the first player to move for money, but I feel very disappointed in him and very let down. You learn from your mistakes and I would never again let anyone have that sort of clause, but when he first joined us I agreed to it as security for him.
"We were a First Division club and not doing particularly well, he was a relatively unknown Norwegian with no experience of England. They asked for this clause as a little bit of comfort for Lars should he not settle in England, should he be unhappy at Forest, should Forest not be successful. It gave him an escape clause."
The Forest chief added that Gross, who has also represented Jurgen Klinsmann, had asked for Bohinen's new deal to include a clause similar to that which contributed to the ill-feeling between Klinsmann and the Tottenham chairman, Alan Sugar, following the German striker's transfer to Bayern Munich.
"They wanted us to give away any right of appeal to Fifa or Uefa in the event of a conflict with Lars over his contract," Clark said. "It would have left us with nowhere to go to seek arbitration and enabled Lars, so far as I could see, to walk out willy-nilly.
"I would be interested to see how many clauses Blackburn have been asked to agree to. For the last seven months I've had to get legal advice, accountants' advice, FA and Premier League advice - and all this while I'm trying to win two football matches a week."
In a further complication, Bohinen has since sacked Gross. In his talks with Blackburn, he has been represented by Frank Mathiesen, the former general manager of FC Copenhagen, now a licensed Fifa agent running a firm called Dan Player, based in the Danish capital.
Clark paid Gross an unexpected tribute. "He has screwed me to the ground but in a fair, tough, honest way and he has looked after Lars' affairs very well," Clark said.
Bohinen's contract with Blackburn, who have been desperate to find a creative midfield player after their poor start to the season, is thought to be worth around pounds 10,000 per week, compared with an estimated pounds 4,000 per week offered by Forest. He will also receive a substantial signing- on fee.
Capped 38 times by Norway and likely to face England in Oslo next week, Bohinen is reported to have said yesterday: "I was happy at Forest, but everything is bigger here."
His decision suddenly to drop Gross sparked speculation that the deal might carry the fingerprints of Rune Hauge, the agent currently suspended over his role in the George Graham "bungs" affair. Blackburn, fearful of possible consequences, contacted the FA to clarify their position should this be the case, but appear to have satisfied themselves about the parties involved.
Hauge has a previous connection with Mathiesen, having brokered the transfer of Torben Piechnik to Liverpool from FC Copenhagen while Mathieson was general manager. The Piechnik deal is among those the Premier League's so-called "bung-busting" team, set up in the light of the Graham affair, has set out to investigate.
Clark added: "I don't know anything about Hauge. He tried to get involved when we signed Lars originally, but Lars and Andy Gross bombed him out."
The Forest manager, steering clear of emotive language, said: "Someone, I don't know who, has been touting Lars about for six months and two English managers told me this summer that his situation had been brought to their knowledge.
"But I must stress that Blackburn have acted totally honourably in every aspect of this deal. Ray Harford is a friend of mine and I wouldn't expect it to be any different."Reuse content