Football: Kinnear's rich feeling

JOE KINNEAR the Wimbledon manager, is playing a cat and mouse game with football's ruthless agents - and winning.

Where Kinnear once had to let players go when a big cash offer came in, he can now say `no'. The lure of transfers to the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool no longer holds sway for the club's promising stars.

Instead, Kinnear is able to hold on to what he sees as the future of the club as they sign five, six and seven-year deals. He explained: "I'm no longer under pressure to sell. Gates have gone up to an average of 18,000 and when we started out it was 6,000.

"We're now reaping the rewards of being able to stay in the Premiership. Previously, I've always had my own budget. There's never been money put into the club. This year I've not had to sell. It's allowed Sam Hammam to invest and me to build the squad."