Football: Edwards ready to break record to sign Sutton: Norwich man in demand

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MARTIN EDWARDS, the Manchester United chairman, must wait until next week before attempting to break the English transfer record with a bid approaching pounds 5m for the Norwich City striker, Chris Sutton.

A year ago United broke new ground by paying pounds 3.75m for Roy Keane, from Nottingham Forest. Now Edwards is planning to buy Sutton, who is already the subject of a pounds 4m offer from troubled Tottenham Hotspur.

Everton, managed by the former Norwich manager, Mike Walker, Blackburn and Arsenal are also interested in Sutton, but Newcastle have abandoned their interest, saying that pounds 5m is unrealistic.

However, United, seeking a third successive title, remain determined to get their man. With his manager, Alex Ferguson, in the United States, Edwards is ready to conduct the deal on a chairman-to-chairman basis, although there has not been much encouragement from his counterpart, Robert Chase. 'Norwich will not discuss the Chris Sutton situation until the week commencing 4 July,' Edwards said yesterday.

'The last time I spoke to anyone from Manchester United was at a Premier League chairmen's meeting three or four weeks ago,' Chase said. 'I've gone on record as saying that, if Chris Sutton isn't with Norwich City at the start of next season, then neither will I. And I stand by that.'

Uefa's deadline for signing players eligible for the first round of European competitions is 15 August, five days before the start of the Premiership programme. Another of England's teams in Europe, Arsenal, may be signing the French internatonal, David Ginola. The Paris St-Germain striker confirmed yesterday that he has had talks with the Highbury club.

Paul Gascoigne, the Lazio and England midfielder, hopes to be playing again in December, eight months after breaking a leg in training in Italy. 'The doctors are talking of my returning to play in January,' he said. 'But I know myself and I'm certain that I'll be back in time for Christmas.'

Manchester City have ruled that no visiting fans will be allowed in Maine Road at the start of the season. Colin Barlow, the club's managing director, said the ban had been 'reluctantly' imposed while ground improvements were carried out.

Rangers' hopes of signing Marc Reiper, the Brondby defender, have hit problems after the Danish club put the asking price up to pounds 1.5m. Rangers are prepared to pay between pounds 800,000 and pounds 900,000.

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