Football: Graham pulls out of chase for Sinton: Wednesday close in on QPR winger as Harkes is sold to Derby

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SHEFFIELD Wednesday moved closer to prising Andy Sinton from Queen's Park Rangers yesterday when Arsenal withdrew their pounds 2.75m offer for the England midfielder and John Harkes joined Derby in a deal expected to bring around pounds 1m into the Hillsborough coffers.

The way was left clear for Wednesday when George Graham declared that he was no longer interested in Sinton. 'He has had enough time and not given us an answer, so the deal is off,' the Arsenal manager said. 'I thought he wanted to join us and was surprised when he asked for more time to consider our offer. I'm not prepared to wait any longer or be messed about.'

Trevor Francis, who needs to sell before he can match the fee QPR had agreed with Arsenal, was unable to persuade the Derby manager, Arthur Cox, to meet his pounds 1.5m valuation of Harkes and the matter will be resolved by a tribunal. Francis hopes to raise a further pounds 250,000 by selling the centre-back Peter Shirtliff to Wolves.

Harkes, who cost Wednesday pounds 90,000 three years ago, completed his move to the Baseball Ground in time to be available for Derby's visit to Nottingham Forest tonight.

QPR have in effect begun spending the Sinton fee already, agreeing yesterday to pay Bristol Rovers pounds 650,000 for Steve Yates. The arrival of another central defender may, in turn, lead to a softening of Gerry Francis's attitude towards Wolves' pounds 1.75m bid for Darren Peacock.

Peter Reid, the Manchester City player-manager, has admitted failure in his attempt to re- sign Paul Stewart from Liverpool. City's offer of around pounds 1.5m fell short of Liverpool's valuation, which is closer to the pounds 2.3m they paid Tottenham for Stewart last summer. 'The deal appears to have died a death,' Reid said.

Sam Hammam, the Wimbledon owner, now seems certain to avoid an FA disrepute charge for allegedly scrawling obscenities on the dressing-room walls at West Ham on Saturday. Terence Brown, the West Ham chairman, revealed yesterday that Hammam had written to him, apologising for any embarrassment, and said he had told the FA he considered the matter closed.

Paul Gascoigne is overweight and will be only 70 per cent fit when Lazio start their season a week on Sunday according to the club doctor. Claudio Bartolini said: 'Compared with his team- mates, Gascoigne arrived without adequate preparation.'

Duncan Ferguson, Rangers' pounds 3.75m signing from Dundee United, played his first match for them behind closed doors at St Mirren yesterday. He was taken off after an hour in a 2-0 win for the Glasgow club.

Match reports, results, page 31