Football: Atkinson is left in limbo

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The Independent Online
Dalian Atkinson's return to English football with Manchester City has been delayed - because his current club, Fenerbahce, still owe Aston Villa pounds 250,000.

Atkinson was sold by Villa's manager, Brian Little, to Fenerbahce for pounds 500,000 in the summer of 1995, but the Turkish club have still to pay half of that fee and any deal with City will have to wait until that matter has been resolved.

Fifa, world football's governing body, has given Fenerbahce a 30-day extension to come up with the remaining money owed to Villa, whose then manager Ron Atkinson paid Sheffield Wednesday pounds 1.6m for Atkinson in 1991.

Steve Stride, Villa's company secretary and director, said: "Fenerbahce are nine months late in terms of the final payment they owe us in the Dalian Atkinson transfer." He also hinted that Villa were unhappy with what they regard as a lenient approach by Fifa towards the Turks.

"In this country if we were just one day late on payment of transfer fees we would face a heavy penalty," Stride said.

The Everton goalkeeper, Neville Southall, is still required by his country, according to Bobby Gould, the Wales manager. Gould has stated that Southall will be back in goal against Belgium for the crucial World Cup qualifier in Cardiff on 29 March.

Gould dismissed fears that Southall would be rusty after temporarily losing his first-team place at Goodison Park to Paul Gerrard, and he has also denied suggestions that he will pick Nottingham Forest's Mark Crossley ahead of the Everton veteran. "Let's make this absolutely clear," Gould said. "Nev is my No 1. If Nev isn't playing first-team football, so be it. It will make him even more determined when he plays for Wales."

Saturday's FA Umbro Trophy third-round tie between Altrincham and Bishop Auckland at Moss Lane was suspended for 24 minutes after visiting Bishop Auckland fans attacked police early in the game.

The referee took both sets of players off the pitch as reinforcements of 30 to 40 policemen and women, and four police horses, took 20 minutes to restore calm. Five arrests were made for public order offences, and charges will follow this week. Despite having two players sent off, Bishop Auckland, of the UniBond League, won 1-0.

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