Football: Ferguson rejected pounds 40,000 `gift'

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SIR ALEX FERGUSON says in his autobiography, that he was offered a pounds 40,000 gift by a Russian agent and that threats were made to Manchester United's chairman, Martin Edwards, prior to the sale of Andrei Kanchelskis in 1995.

Ferguson says in his book, "Managing My Life", that in 1994 Kanchelskis agreed a new four-year contract that made him one of the best paid players at Old Trafford. Later Grigory Essaoulenko, a Russian agent who acted for Kanchelskis, told Ferguson that he had a present for him. United's manager accept ed a parcel from the Russian, assuming it was a samovar or similar gift, but when he opened it, he discovered it was packed with money.

Ferguson took the money to Old Trafford and placed it in the club safe, where it lay for a year. He began to worry that as he has not been involved in negotiating the new Kanchelskis deal the gift might have been designed to gain sympathy ahead of future deals.

When Kanchelskis' move to Everton was being negotiated but, according to Ferguson, the pressure exerted by the agent culminated in him making a threat against Edwards' life if the deal did not go through.

The Football Association is to write to Paul Ince regarding yesterday's newspaper attack on his former employers at Anfield. Ince, who said he wanted to hit the Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier, after he was told he was not wanted, said in a Sunday paper that he wanted Houllier and his assistant, Phil Thompson, to be sacked for the way they had treated him before his move to Middlesbrough. "They are two-faced and treat people like dirt," Ince said.

The League Managers' Association chief executive, John Barnwell, believes one of his members would have been charged with disrepute had they made the comments attributed to Ince. "If it was a manager saying those things, he'd be brought up for bringing the game into disrepute," Barnwell said.

An FA spokesman, Steve Double, said: "Graham Bean, the FA's compliance officer, will be writing to Paul to get his observations."

Meanwhile, Houllier said yesterday that the injured England striker Michael Owen will miss the start of the Premiership season on Saturday because of his long-standing hamstring injury.