Football: Juninho deal nearly complete

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The Independent Online
Middlesbrough are confident Brazil's Juninho will make his Premiership debut against Leeds United at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday as they near a settlement of the dispute with Sao Paulo over the payment of the pounds 4.75m fee.

The club say half that money will be paid to the Brazilians within 48 hours as soon as an international certificate is received. Keith Lamb, Middlesbrough's chief executive, said: "I understand it's on its way. We expect him to play against Leeds.''

Juninho trained yesterday less than 24 hours after arriving on Teesside following his flight from South America. "He will be eased in gradually. We will have a full scale practice match on Thursday, when he will be given the role we want him to play," his manager, Bryan Robson, said.

Manchester United have learned that the Football Association does not intend to extend Roy Keane's punishment beyond the statutory four-match ban for being sent off against Middlesbrough on Saturday. "It was a football offence," an FA spokesman said, ''and we consider the correct suspension is already in place.''

United have cooled speculation they are about to buy Auxerre's Algerian midfielder, Moussa Saib, to fill the right flank position vacated by the transferred Andrei Kanchelskis. "We are aware of Saib," their manager, Alex Ferguson said, "but we haven't made any approach.''

The FA says the former Arsenal manager, George Graham, is unlikely to face further punishment despite his admission in a tabloid newspaper yesterday that he took transfer bungs.

"Everything I have read so far appears to have been covered by the Commission of Inquiry," Steve Double, an FA spokesman, said. That inquiry imposed a worldwide ban on Graham for 12 months.

Tottenham and Newcastle are facing an FA inquiry into Ruel Fox's pounds 4.5m transfer. Both Spurs and Kevin Keegan's club will be asked if an unlicenced agent - Steve Kutner - was involved in the deal.

The FA wrote to both clubs yesterday as part of their crackdown on moves involving agents who have not paid their pounds 100,000 bond to Fifa, world football's governing body. The probe could be embarrassing for Spurs' chairman, Alan Sugar, who has been tough in his criticism of football's irregularities.

The London-based Kutner has still to get a licence, the FA revealed last night, although they state he is "in the process" of applying for one. Because Kutner was involved in the deal on Fox's behalf the FA is investigating.

Under Fifa's rules Fox could be fined and banned for using an unlicenced agent, while the clubs could at worst be suspended from all competitions.

The Republic of Ireland could be without two midfield players for their European Championship qualifier in Portugal on 15 November. Aston Villa's Steve Staunton is unlikely to be fit for another two weeks after injuring a hamstring while Sheffield Wednesday's John Sheridan had an operation on an injured knee yesterday.

The Leicester defender Steve Walsh also received some bad news yesterday when he learned he could be out for three months recovering from a sixth knee operation in two years. Carlisle's goalkeeper Tony Elliott, meanwhile, was detained in hospital for a further night after suffering internal bruising against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Tottenham have escaped censure from the Football Association over their use of the giant television screen which so upset Kevin Keegan at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

The Newcastle manager is lobbying the FA to have the screen shut down during games, claiming the backdrop of giant television action is distracting and off-putting.

"Large screens such as the ones at Tottenham and Arsenal are superb facilities which add to spectator entertainment," the FA said. "However the FA has always stressed that clubs must ensure that use of screens during the match itself does not create problems either on or off the field of play."

The FA's powers to act are limited because there is nothing in the rules and regulations to cover this expensive technological development.

Keegan made comparisons with Highbury's two big screens, which are switched off during games. However, the FA believes they are not comparable because at Arsenal the screens are very low down and would interfere with play if they were on during the game.

At Tottenham, the screen is very high up on top of the south stand and not in the direct line of vision of the players and officials. In addition, it cannot be seen by visiting fans placed in the south stand.

Keegan objected to the whole match being shown simultaneously on the big screen. He was particularly upset by the replay facility which could be inflammatory if it featured controversial incidents.

Tottenham have complied with FA advice to limit replays to uncontroversial incidents like home goals and near misses but were caught out on Sunday when they took a live feed from Sky Sports, switching back to their own fixed cameras when Keegan made his objection after the first 10 minutes.

Juninho picture, European preview, page 25

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