Football: Dispute over Kinkladze fee

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MANCHESTER CITY are locked in a price war with the Dutch club Ajax over the transfer of Georgi Kinkladze.

The Georgian midfielder has met Ajax officials and is close to agreeing a pounds 16,000 per week five-year contract. However, City and Ajax are more than pounds 2m apart in their valuations of the player. City want pounds 5.5m for Kinkladze - which is less than the Maine Road club would have earned had they accepted a recent bid from Everton. However, Ajax are only willing to pay around pounds 3.5m.

Joe Royle, the City manager, said: "We have told them what we want and we are talking about pounds 5.5m. We are selling him because we need the money, so we won't lower the fee."

Paul Gascoigne will make his league debut for Middlesbrough at West Bromwich Albion tomorrow. The England midfielder, a pounds 3.45m buy from Rangers last week, has been building up his fitness in training after his second-half substitute appearance against Chelsea in the Coca-Cola Cup final at Wembley last Sunday.

Viv Anderson, Boro's assistant manager, said: "We have eight important games left in our promotion run-in. Gazza will be involved in all of them, which is great for the team."

The League set-up in Scotland is clouded in confusion only six weeks before the end of the season.

A Scottish League management committee meeting in Glasgow yesterday failed to clear up the problems over reconstruction. The 10 Premier League clubs have still not confirmed their breakaway move and are continuing discussions with the League and the Scottish Football Association to set it up. The other 30 clubs cannot agree on whether they want two divisions or three divisions next season.

Preston North End have suspended their French striker Habib Sissoko following an incident after last Saturday's game against Wigan.

Sissoko, who has been at Deepdale for six weeks, was allegedly involved in a scuffle with a team-mate. He claims he was racially abused, and the Professional Footballers' Association have been called in to launch an investigation.

The former Aberdeen manager Roy Aitken has declared that he wants to take over from Terry Venables as the Australian national coach, if, as expected, the former England coach leaves his post when his contract expires in July.