Football: Johnson faces transfer inquiry

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The Independent Online
PETER JOHNSON is to face a Football League investigation into transfer dealings with his old club, Tranmere Rovers.

Johnson, who stepped down recently as Everton chairman, is under orders to dispose of one of the Merseyside clubs he has a stake in by the end of the year. However, the Football League is preparing a dossier on transfer deals, including one that took the goalkeeper Steve Simonsen from Rovers to Everton this season, and wants to ask Johnson about the background.

A previous move involving Tony Thomas may also come under scrutiny in the light of Fraud Squad investigations into the former Tranmere chairman, Frank Corfe. A police statement yesterday said: "The Merseyside Police Fraud Squad have received a complaint from the board of directors at Tranmere Rovers Football Club. Enquiries are now being made but they are at a very early stage."

League insiders say Johnson will be questioned about the Simonsen move following complaints, many of which have come from Tranmere fans.

Rovers were under the control of Corfe when Simonsen was sold to Everton, with the price causing controversy in both camps. Everton claimed they paid a British record fee of more than pounds 3m, while Tranmere received only an initial payment of pounds 500,000, with the rest of the cash made up of appearances and a player in exchange.

That angered Tranmere officials, with claims made that other clubs had offered more up front for Simonsen, but Everton were allowed to sign him instead.

If those claims are verified then Johnson could be in trouble with the League for having an influence on his old team, a club he still has a big interest in. That contravenes rules about individuals having shares in more than one club and is as blatant a case as could be imagined.

Patrick Vieira will face the evidence of three police witnesses at his Football Association disciplinary hearing on Monday. The Arsenal midfielder faces two misconduct charges relating to his side's match at Sheffield Wednesday in September.

The first charges him with making gestures to Wednesday fans while the second relates to an alleged incident in the tunnel with a police officer.

Manchester United have admitted they have no timetable in place for new contract talks with their manager, Alex Ferguson. United have still to begin negotiations despite chief executive Martin Edwards' promise last month to sit down and discuss Ferguson's future.

Chelsea's attempt to sign the Spanish striker Juan Antonio Pizzi has collapsed because of a clause in his contract with River Plate. Pizzi was due to join Gianluca Vialli's squad for the rest of the season for a pounds 300,000 "loan fee". But Chelsea discovered that Pizzi's old club Barcelona are due pounds 1.5m if Pizzi plays in Europe permanently or on loan.

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