Boro released a statement before yesterday's JD Sports Cup third place play-off between the clubs stating: "Middlesbrough Football Club has signed Keith Gillespie from Newcastle, subject to the player passing a medical. Gillespie joins Middlesbrough having agreed a five-year contract and is expected to train with his new team-mates on Tuesday."
But the Newcastle manager, Kenny Dalglish, and the Boro manager, Bryan Robson, denied the deal had been completed. Dalglish said: "You are telling me something I never knew," referring to the statement. "I knew the bid for Keith was acceptable but I never knew what had happened after that and neither did Bryan Robson."
He added: "Obviously, if a player is involved coming in or going out, you'd think the manager would be involved in the decision. I was aware of the offer but you cannot sign a player before he's had his medical. If it has gone through, then we are disappointed because I haven't had a chance to speak to Keith and this isn't right. Movement is part and parcel of football but there's a way to do things and it's wrong if I haven't spoken to the player. That's me being honest and open about it."
It seems clear that the deal will go through, possibly tomorrow, but both clubs are at pains to state that Gillespie has not passed his medical yet. The player has agreed terms with Middlesbrough, but clearly the Newcastle manager was angered by the Boro press release.
Robson also chose his words carefully, when he said: "It is not 100 per cent tied up, Keith has still got a medical to go through. We have agreed a fee with Newcastle but there are other things to sort out. Everyone has jumped the gun, even though personal terms have been agreed."
Robson admitted he had made a move for Gillespie 18 months ago but was then told the player was not available. Now it is second time lucky.
Tranmere's new French signing George Santos had a nightmare afternoon as he scored an own goal and was then sent off before his side won a penalty shoot-out 4-2 following a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes to beat Manchester City in the final of yesterday's Bill Shankly Shield.