Football: Johnson wants money back

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LAWYERS FOR the Everton chairman, Peter Johnson, and Tranmere Rovers are demanding that Frank Corfe repays pounds 500,000 he allegedly owes the First Division club.

Corfe left Tranmere in September following disagreements behind the scenes, and now his old friend Johnson and the club are seeking settlement for what they allege is "missing" money paid to Corfe's building firm, Storeton Developments.

Johnson is unhappy that figures have been revealed in the accounts over the past five years that include many sums being authorised by Corfe and paid to his company for work carried out on behalf of Tranmere Rovers.

The allegations include investigations into the cost of a drainage system for the training ground - work yet to be done - and the building of a police room and boot room at Prenton Park by Corfe's company, which has now collapsed.

Corfe is remaining silent about the allegations, but his solicitor Tim Norman claimed they were "untrue and libellous".

Johnson is under orders to sort out the affairs of Tranmere and sever his links with either them or the Goodison club by the end of the year.

He and Corfe had been close allies during his time as chairman before he handed his shares to his former friend. Corfe's financial problems led to his shares reverting to Johnson, prompting a Football League inquiry into possible joint ownership which is against the rules.

English clubs came in for scathing criticism yesterday from Les Scheinflug, the Australian national coach, for creaming off his country's top young talent on the cheap.

Scheinflug slammed clubs he described as "manipulators and greed merchants" who he believes are solely interested in making money not improving their sport.

"As it stands these overseas clubs are coming in and getting the best of our 14 and 15-year-olds," he said.

"They take them to England, or wherever, and trail them for a year at virtually no expense. If they are no good they are discarded. The club, however, needs to find just one good player and their investment is paid back tenfold."

In the past two years West Ham, who have the Australian Stan Lazaridis on their books, have invested heavily in Australia, sponsoring Blacktown City in New South Wales and Kingsway Hammers in Perth.

Gary Williams, whose company acts for West Ham, insists the club do not operate like that. "The club are worried they are being categorised as some sort of rapist and pillager when nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

"We have spent more than pounds 120,00 so far. Of all the overseas clubs that have come here and chased the wonderful talent, West Ham are probably the only ones totally above board."

Andy Goram, the former Scottish international goalkeeper, could resume his career with FC Copenhagen after spending a week on trial with the Danish club.

Goram, 34, who quit the Scottish World Cup squad shortly before this summer's finals citing publicity regarding his private life, has been a free agent since leaving Rangers at the end of last season.

FC Copenhagen needs a keeper after Michael Steensgaard signed for Southampton on Thursday.

Flemming Ostergaard, the club's managing director, was quoted as saying that Goram was one possible replacement for Steensgaard, but did not commit himself to signing the player, who won 43 caps.

Tony Dorigo has sealed his future with Derby by signing a contract until the end of next season. The former Leeds United full-back came back to England from Italy last month and made his Derby debut against Manchester United after signing a short-term deal.

The Argentinian defender, Mauricio Taricco, is in limbo, his transfer to Tottenham Hotspur incomplete while he recovers from an ankle injury received in his last match for Ipswich Town nearly three weeks ago.

"I've been out for two and a half weeks and the Tottenham doctor told me at my medical test that I could be out for up to four weeks," Taricco said yesterday.

The Argentinian was tackled from behind in injury time during Ipswich's home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the eve of his medical at Tottenham. He suffered a bruised left Achilles tendon and ankle.

Carlton pulls out of Arsenal takeover, page 20