Celtic break club record to sign Thom

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The price of retaining or acquiring supremacy in Scotland escalated yesterday when Rangers and Celtic spent nearly pounds 5m between them, Celtic signing Germany's Andreas Thom and Rangers the Russian international Oleg Salenko.

Thom, a 29-year-old forward with Bayer Leverkusen, agreed a three-year deal to break Celtic's transfer record with a fee of pounds 2.2m. "He is fast, exciting and accomplished," Tommy Burns, the club's manager, said. "He is the finished article as far as world-class strikers are concerned."

Which is precisely how Salenko, who scored five times in Russia's 6-1 World Cup mauling of Cameroon last summer, could also be described. Rangers paid Valencia pounds 2.5m for his services, although they will need to acquire a work permit by Monday's deadline if he is to be eligible for the preliminary European Cup tie against Famagusta of Cyprus on 9 August.

Not that Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, allowed that to dampen the enthusiasm for his signing. "Oleg will link up with those round about him," he said. "He leads the line very well."

If Glasgow's expenditure was substantial, however, Manchester United will have to surpass it if they are to prise Marc Overmars away from Ajax.

Alex Ferguson has made an inquiry about the 22-year-old Dutch winger, but the Amsterdam club's coach, Louis van Gaal, was not encouraging. "I want to keep Overmars because he is my best player," he said. "The situation is we have blocked United's approach. There may be a fee which we may consider, but it has not been reached by any interested party."

Chelsea yesterday admitted trying - and failing - in an approach for pounds 10m-rated Matthew Le Tissier. Chelsea, angered by what they term "almost daily speculation and fabrication", have set the record straight. Glenn Hoddle said Chelsea asked about Le Tissier's availability, but Southampton were not prepared to discuss a transfer.

The prospect of Bruce Grobbelaar, John Fashanu and Hans Segers being allowed to play before their October court case receded yesterday when the Football Association admitted they are to have talks concerning the trio charged with match fixing.

Graham Kelly, the FA's chief executive, said he would be meeting his Premier League counterpart, Rick Parry, next week to examine possible measures. "We cannot necessarily leave this matter alone," he said. "We have to balance the individual interests of the players involved against the integrity of the game as a whole, while also taking into account the concerns expressed by Fifa this week."