Football: Hammers in the hunt for pounds 1.2m Margas

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The Independent Online
TWO PREMIERSHIP clubs moved for overseas players yesterday, as West Ham were linked with Chile's World Cup defender Javier Margas and Aston Villa pursued the teenage Italian midfielder, Fabio Ferraresi, on a free transfer.

The Hammers manager, Harry Redknapp, has agreed a pounds 1.2m fee for Margas - who was part of the Chile side that drew 1-1 with Austria in St Etienne yesterday - with the 29-year- old's club, Universidad Catolica.

Ferraresi is wanted by a number of leading clubs in Italy but the 19- year-old is keen to play in England after helping Cesena to win promotion from Serie C last season. The Villa manager, John Gregory, said: "We are confident that the lad will be joining us."

First Division Sunderland were also recruiting yesterday, snapping up the Wrexham striker, Neil Wainwright, for pounds 500,000.

Leicester City have decided not to complain to either the Premier League or Football Association after Everton were alleged to have made an approach to the Filbert Street club's manager, Martin O'Neill.

A spokesman for the Premiership club said: "We are not reporting Everton for any illegal approach to Martin O'Neill and we're just looking forward to next season."

One manager on the move yesterday was Neil Warnock, who took over at First Division Bury. Warnock, who arrives at Gigg Lane along with his Oldham assistant, Ron Reid, has also been at the helm of Scarborough, Huddersfield, Notts County and Plymouth.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, is backing plans by a consortium to bring Wimbledon to Belfast. A group of Ulster businessmen have proposed building a stadium in the Province's capital, which could become the Dons' new home. Mowlam feels Premiership football would bring huge benefits to Northern Ireland and might even aid the peace process.

The Dons, who play at Crystal Palace's ground, Selhurst Park, have been linked with a switch to Dublin for the past two years and any move to Belfast would face stern opposition from both the Football Association of Ireland and the world governing body, Fifa.

Milan and Borussia Dortmund could gain a back-door entry into the Uefa Cup next season despite failing to qualify. A plan put forward at a meeting of European football's governing body in Paris on Tuesday would give wild card entries to European champions of the past five years who have not won places in any of the three European club competitions.

The five-year limit would mean that no more than four additional teams would be added to the Uefa Cup each season as the reigning European champions automatically enter the Champions' League. A final decision will be taken next month.