Football: Carlton threat to Wenger as Gunners target Swede

Click to follow
ARSENAL YESTERDAY learned that an unwelcomed spin-off from their proposed tie-up with Carlton Television could be the departure of their Double-winning manager, Arsene Wenger.

Wenger, who hopes to complete the pounds 3m signing of the Swedish international Fredrik Ljungberg this weekend, revealed that his position is inextricably linked to the Arsenal directors who brought him to the club staying in control.

A new four-year contract for Wenger has been lying around unsigned for two months and although he insists that the Carlton bid has not affected his resolve to commit to a long-term future at the Gunners, he pointed out: "I've given my word to the directors, but if tomorrow they are no longer around, then who knows what could change."

David Dein, Arsenal's vice chairman and major shareholder, was the man who brought Wenger from the Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight two years ago, and the Frenchman has now been offered lucrative terms - though to be around pounds 1m annually - to extend the original contract which now has less than a year to run.

Wenger included chairman Peter Hill-Wood and manager Ken Friar when he said: "They made me come here, and I think it is important that they stay in control.

"I believe the directors do not have much more to tell me because talks [with Charlton] are still in a very early stage.

"But there could be a quick change because that is what is happening in football. I am still trying to take in what is happening with Sky and Manchester United.

"We are in a world that changes very quickly and you just have to adapt to change. You can be in a job where you already earn good money and then suddenly you find even more is coming in. It could be very exciting.

"But football is special. You have to have people running it who care about it - people who have patience and will give you time. In football, impatience for success has already grown tremendously over the past few years and more money always means less patience.

"As long as I have the guarantee of working my own way here then I am happy. Maybe if Carlton come in they can make things even better, but I need to find out what direction we are going in. All I care about really is to be able to do my job with the freedom I have always had."

Carlton has not changed its mind about coverage of Arsenal's Champions' League match with Lens in France next Wednesday. Only highlights of the game will be shown on Carlton, which is transmitting the whole of Manchester United's game against Barcelona on the same night.

Arsenal fans will also have to wait to see the 21-year-old Ljungberg in action. The Halmstad striker, who was one of the principal architects of Sweden's victory over England last Saturday, will not be eligible for the first six Champions' League matches.

The Portuguese international, Rui Costa will not be joining Newcastle United after all. The Fiorentina midfielder was thought to be on his way to Tyneside in a pounds 6.3m move, but Newcastle's manager, Ruud Gullit, said: "There's been no bid for Costa. I have not contacted Fiorentina."

The Everton chairman, Peter Johnson, has blocked Walter Smith's pounds 4.5m move for the African striker Ibrahima Bakayoko. Johnson is unhappy with the method of payment for the Ivory Coast international who plays for Montpellier.

Liverpool are ready to sell Sean Dundee to Auxerre for pounds 2m only two months after signing the striker from Karlsruhe.

Anfield's chief executive, Rick Parry, and the Premier League chief executive, Peter Leaver, will attend Uefa talks in Geneva on Monday aimed at revamping European club competitions and heading off a European super league.

Liverpool are one of six clubs invited to join the task force, entitled European Club Football 2000, along with Juventus, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Porto and Lyons.

Ron Atkinson is set to be confirmed as the coach of South Africa. Atkinson parted company with Sheffield Wednesday in the summer. South Africa's former coach, the Frenchman Philippe Troussier, has been appointed the new coach of Japan.