Football: Fee speech: The right to know

Libero: Ian Ridley on football
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The Independent Online
Transfer deadline day was marked by Kenny Dalglish's first major signing for Newcastle United, Des Hamilton from Bradford City. The fee seems to have been pounds 1.5m, despite being variously reported as anything between pounds 1m and pounds 2.5m. Why, though, should it have to be guesswork?

The Premiership and Football League never release the size of fees, saying that they are private matters between clubs. The clubs themselves frequently put out sums that suit them, depending on whether they want fans to think they are being extravagant or shrewd. Selling and buying clubs can release differing fees.

In the United States there is no such nonsense. Players' salaries are a matter of public record, as are the amounts involved in "trades" between teams. It should be so over here, to end the guesswork and dissemination of misinformation that the media are forced into carrying.

Perhaps then we might see an end to the bung-culture secrecy that still prevails, about which we will hear more when the Premiership inquiry reports any week - or perhaps year - now. Besides which, quaint as it may sound, the fans who pay for it all should have a right to the truth.

ONE can only hope it is not some portent of a troubled and difficult future for Middlesbrough, but the last North-east team to win at Wembley were Whickham, who claimed the FA Vase in 1981.

Sadly they are now in danger of folding. One of their recent Northern League matches attracted just six paying spectators, only three of whom could be tempted into buying a programme.