Football: Arsenal pull out of chase for Sutton: Blackburn set to break transfer record again as Norwich striker sees one avenue close

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The Independent Online
THE final obstacle hampering Blackburn Rovers' pursuit of Chris Sutton disappeared yesterday when Arsenal withdrew from the two- horse race.

Like Blackburn, Arsenal had agreed to meet Norwich City's British-record pounds 5m evaluation; they gave no explanation for ending their interest. 'Arsenal have withdrawn their offer for the Norwich City player, Chris Sutton,' was the sole comment of Ken Friar, the managing director at Highbury.

Speculation will inevitably focus on Arsenal's unwillingness to meet the England B striker's wage demands, reported to be substantially higher than pounds 10,000-a-week. The Londoners' chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, has been on record stating that a club respected for their tight pay policy would not pay 'silly' wages.

Everton, frustrated in their attempt to buy Sweden's Martin Dahlin, made a late offer for the 21-year-old Sutton but their overtures were rebuffed by Norwich. Sutton's signing will take Kenny Dalglish's outlay to more than pounds 25m since he became manager at Ewood Park in October 1991.

Tommy Burns, the new Celtic manager, yesterday insisted that there had been nothing unethical bout his departure from Kilmarnock and subsequent arrival at Celtic Park. Burns strenuously denied being approached by the Glasgow club before resigning from at Kilmarnock. 'I applied for the job only after being given continued refusals by Kilmarnock Football Club to speak to Celtic,' Burns said.

Bobby Fleeting, the Rugby Park chairman, reported Celtic to the Scottish Football Association over the recruitment of Burns and his No 2 Billy Stark. Legal action is under consideration.

Mark Pembridge, the Derby midfielder, has been placed on the transfer list at his own request. The 23-year-old Welsh international is known to want Premiership football.

Stoke City have offered pounds 500,000 plus Dave Regis for Birmingham's Canadian international striker, Paul Peschisolido. Elswehere in the Midlands, Dariusz Kubicki, Aston Villa's Polish full-back, has moved to Sunderland for pounds 100,000 while Crewe's striker, Tony Naylor, crossed to Port Vale for pounds 150,000.

Graham Taylor, the former England manager, returns to the international arena next month when Wolverhampton Wanderers meet Lecce in the Anglo-Italian Cup. Taylor's team kick off in southern Italy on 24 August before meeting Ascoli, Venezia and Atalanta in Group A of the 16- club tournament.

Tore Pedersen, Oldham's Norwegian defender, has joined the J League club, Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Also heading to Japan is the Brazilian Rivelino, who has become manager of Shimizu S-Pulse. Another Brazilian, Rai, may also feature in the J League when it reassembles on 10 August. His current employers, Paris St-Germain, held discussions with representatives of three Japanese clubs in New York City in midweek.

Anglo-Italian fixtures, page 39

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