FOOTBALL: Gascoigne tales set Scotland buzzing

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The Independent Online
A wave of "Gazzamania" is sweeping Scotland in the wake of the news that Rangers have agreed a fee with Lazio for Paul Gascoigne.

Even though the deal is far from being signed and sealed, some bookmakers in Glasgow are on the verge of refusing to take any more bets on Rangers winning the championship next season. If Gascoigne were to sign, then Rangers would be regarded as virtually certain to take the title for the eighth year in a row.

A spokesman for one firm, McAllister's, said: "All bets might be off anyway. We may consider only taking bets on who finishes second because Rangers have been so far ahead this year."

One of the main topics of conversation has become where Gascoigne might live. The properties supposedly on offer or under consideration include a number of mansions, some with their own trout river or private lake should Gascoigne fancy following Jack Charlton's example and escaping from the pressure with a spot of fishing.

Rangers are refusing to be drawn into the hysteria. Their manager, Walter Smith, has agreed a fee, now thought to be nearer £4.5m than £4m, but he has yet to meet Gascoigne's adviser, Len Lazarus, to discuss personal terms.

The one thing Gascoigne will not be short of is advice - much of it contradictory. Smith declined to respond to reports that Terry Venables is advising Gascoigne to choose the Premiership instead of Scotland.

Ray Wilkins, though, thinks that the lure of the European Cup could tempt Gascoigne to move to Glasgow. The Queen's Park Rangers manager, who played in Italy and for Rangers, said: "He wants to play on a big stage and they can offer him the chance to play in the European Cup next season. Paul Gascoigne would grace Ibrox, I'm sure of that."

Rangers, meanwhile, face a battle to keep Alexei Mikhailichenko. Foreign Office officials have told Rangers that he has not played enough matches this season to warrant a lengthy extension to his work permit.

"That hardly seems fair when you consider that he has been injured for the huge majority of the season," Smith said.

The Spanish federation has suspended Jesus Gil y Gil, the president of Atletico Madrid, from any involvement in football for eight months for insulting a referee. Gil may face further action for an outburst two weeks ago when he insulted one of his club's black players.

Roberto Baggio, whose contract expires at the end of the season, could be on the move. He cannot agree terms with Juventus, who are said to be offering a salary in the region of £833,000, a reduction of about a third on what he earns at the moment.

Ken Jones, page 30