Football: Arsenal face Pennant inquiry

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ARSENAL WILL be co-operating with a Football Association investigation into the transfer of Jermaine Pennant from Notts County.

A Sunday paper claimed that Arsenal's intermediary agent, Mark Curtis, gave Pennant's father Garry pounds 700 as part of a promised pounds 10,000 to seal the transfer of the teenager, but the Gunners have dismissed claims that they were involved.

An Arsenal statement read: "Arsenal Football Club has acted responsibly throughout these negotiations... Any financial transaction between Mark Curtis and Garry Pennant was totally without the knowledge and authorisation of Arsenal Football Club."

Sheffield Wednesday are on the brink of completing a pounds 600,000 deal for Hugo Porfirio, Benfica's former West Ham winger. The Portuguese international spent two days on trial with Wednesday this week and is understood to have been impressed with the club's manager, Danny Wilson, and the Owls.

Benfica wanted pounds 1m for Porfirio, who was with the Hammers during the 1996-97 season, but the clubs have reached a compromise.

Aston Villa have been accused of stalling on payments to Brighton for Gareth Barry, the England Under-21 defender. Barry joined Villa in February last year, and the Football League's Appeal Committee told Villa, in October, to pay pounds 150,000 followed by pounds 200,000 after the 18-year-old had played 20 first-team games and more later. Brighton have received the pounds 150,000 but Villa have not made the pounds 200,000 payment despite letters from the Premier League and Brighton.

John Rudge's reign as Port Vale manager could be over this week. A home defeat by Swindon left Vale in the bottom three and the club's chairman, Billy Bell, could now win his simmering feud with the long-serving manager. Brian Horton, a former Vale player who is improving Brighton, would be top of Bell's list of replacements.