Football: Everton count cost of Walker: Merseysiders ordered to pay pounds 125,000 in fine and compensation

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The Independent Online
EVERTON yesterday discovered the final cost of acquiring Mike Walker as their manager when they were fined pounds 75,000 by an FA Premier League commission. They were also ordered to pay Norwich City, Walker's former club, pounds 50,000 compensation.

The three-man inquiry - Rick Parry, the Premier League chief executive, Steve Coppell, the former Crystal Palace manager, and Robert Reid, QC - found Everton guilty of 'indirectly inducing' Walker to leave Carrow Road for Goodison Park last January.

The punishment, decided after three meetings and 16 hours of deliberations, falls below the record fine of pounds 105,000 made against Chelsea in 1991 for alleged illegal payments to players, although the total cost to Everton exceeds this. They have 14 days either to pay or appeal.

The commission decided against deducting points because it felt Everton did not set out with the intention of breaching Premier League rules but had the impression that Robert Chase, the Norwich chairman, might release Walker if a fee could be negotiated.

It also rejected Norwich's full compensation claim - pounds 50,000 for a 're-settling' trip to Spain for the players and a further pounds 266,000 based on loss of Premiership points - as the former seemed 'excessive' and the latter 'speculative and remote'.

Nevertheless, Norwich welcomed the judgement. 'This was never really about money as far as I was concerned,' Chase said. 'It was about a principle. Was it right for a manager to walk out on a club at 10 o'clock in the morning the day before a big game?

'I regret how long it has gone on for and I regret the need to do it in the first place, but sometime, someone has to make a stand and I believe this has been in the best interests of football.'

Chase also endorsed a footnote to the five-page report which called for the tightening of regulations relating to managers' contracts. 'I believe if the rules are changed as they are suggesting in the report that sort of thing will never happen again.'

Walker resigned from Carrow Road on 7 January, the eve of Norwich's FA Cup third- round tie against Wycombe Wanderers, and Chase claimed that 'there must have been negotiations behind the scenes . . . either directly or indirectly before that date'. He also maintained Everton had head-hunted Walker through the media.

The Merseyside club insist they complied with Premier League rules and did not induce Walker to terminate his contract, nor approach him with a view to offering him employment. They had, they said, been justified in accepting his word that his Norwich contract was at an end.

What is not in dispute is that neither club has prospered since Walker's move. Everton's Premiership status has been threatened by a run of only four wins in 15 matches while Norwich have had only one League victory under John Deehan . . . against Everton.

English clubs will learn next week whether the Premiership will be offered an additional route into European football next season. England has two Uefa Cup places at present, one of which is awarded to the League Cup winners, but this could be expanded in Vienna next week when a ban on clubs from Serbia and Montenegro may be extended.

JOHN JENSEN, Arsenal's Danish midfield player, will miss the European Cup-Winners' Cup final against Parma in Copenhagen on 4 May. Jensen damaged knee ligaments in that same city in his country's 3-1 friendly defeat of Hungary last night and will be out for four to six weeks.

Last night's football, page 43