Football: Gullit moves for Rui Costa

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RUUD GULLIT was reported last night to have lined up his first major signing for Newcastle United, Fiorentina having accepted an offer of pounds 6.5m for Rui Costa.

The Portuguese goal-scoring midfielder was expected to sign a five-year contract at the weekend after flying to the North-east from Italy.

A spokesman for Fiorentina was quoted as saying Newcastle had enquired about the 26-year-old last weekend. "They were orignally asked to pay pounds 7m. Now the deal is done," he said.

Ian Wright, who just missed out on a place in the Premier League Hall of Fame's first six berths, announced yesterday, has an anxious wait before discovering if he faces disciplinary action for revealing a T-shirt expressing support for striking Essex firemen after scoring in West Ham's 4-3 defeat by Wimbledon at Upton Park on Wednesday. The firefighters are on strike over proposed job losses.

After showing off the T-shirt,Wright took it off and threw it towards the crowd before putting his West Ham shirt back on and running back on to the pitch.

An FA spokesman said: "We will have to wait to see if the incident is mentioned in the referee's report before deciding whether to take any action."

Robbie Fowler, the Liverpool striker, was fined for a similar offence two seasons ago when he wore a T-shirt supporting striking Liverpool dockers.

The first six footballers who will be immortalised in the Hall of Fame, unveiled yesterday, included one player chosen from each of the six years during which the Premier League has been in existence. The players are: Peter Schmeichel, 1992-93; Eric Cantona, 1993-94; Alan Shearer 1994-95; Les Ferdinand 1995-96; Gianfranco Zola 1996-97; Dennis Bergkamp 1997-98. They were selected by a panel of 19 experts, chaired by Sir Geoff Hurst. The Hall opens in March, and the six players will line up with six more to be chosen by the public in a telephone poll. Runners-up in the vote included Jurgen Klinsmann, Tony Adams, Michael Owen, David Beckham, Ian Wright and Paul McGrath.

Sheffield Wednesday are preparing a second appeal against a decision by the Department of Employment not to renew the work permit of their Yugoslav international, Dejan Stefanovic. The 23-year-old defender has been in limbo since May following the decision to reject his application on the grounds that he had not appeared in enough games for the English Premier League side.

Derby's manager, Jim Smith, has completed the pounds 300,000 signing of Kevin Harper, a former Scotland Under-21 international, from Hibernian. Harper, 22, can play as a central striker or on the wing.

Hearts have made an offer for the Raith Rovers striker Paul Hartley as their manager, Jim Jefferies, attempts to strengthen his Scottish Cup- winning squad. However, the First Division side want more than twice the pounds 200,000 Hearts have offered for Hartley.

Mirror Group plc said yesterday it is to launch a local cable television "fanzine" for Hearts. The announcement came ahead of the launch last night of Manchester United TV (MUTV), a channel created by Manchester United, Rupert Murdoch's television company, BSkyB, and Granada Group.

Morten Wieghorst, the Celtic midfielder, could be forced to miss the rest of the season after learning he requires major knee surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament. Celtic have been linked with a move for the AZ Alkmaar defender, Peter Wijker, as pressure grows on the management to sign players ahead of the club's AGM on Monday.

Leeds United's chairman, Peter Ridsdale, has given George Graham "total authority" to sign the players he needs to bring top honours back to Elland Road. Graham feels he needs "two or three" more players to turn Leeds into championship contenders, and Ridsdale indicated that he would be prepared to break the club's pounds 4.5m transfer record to acquire the right players.