Football: New threat to United deal

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The Independent Online
RUPERT MURDOCH'S bid to take over Manchester United is being opposed by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association.

The Premier League is formulating a submission to the Office of Fair Trading outlining its fears about the pounds 625m BSkyB offer. It is unhappy that the takeover would make United a "superclub" and ruin the level of competition in the Premiership. And with Murdoch having a team at the negotiating table when the next television contract is discussed, they argue it could create a conflict of interest.

The PFA is supporting the Premier League and will outline a similar case to the OFT before the end of the month. Discussions have gone on between the two bodies over the past few days as they mount an opposition strategy. The Premier League is aware that it could be swept away if the bid goes through, and other TV companies buy up the elite clubs.

Tottenham Hotspur denied yesterday that they were still trying to prise George Graham away from Leeds United. "It is true that we did make an approach for permission to speak to George Graham, but our approach was denied," a spokesman said. "All references in today's papers are fictitious." The club also denied an interest in signing David Batty, the Newcastle and England midfielder.

Aston Villa's manager, John Gregory, is to renew his attempts to sign the Manchester United striker, Andy Cole, with a bid of around pounds 10m.

The Sunderland goalkeeper Tony Coton has joined the coaching staff at Manchester United, one of his former clubs. Coton has not played since breaking a leg two years ago and has been suspended from his duties as reserve team coach at the Stadium of Light. He has initiated high court proceedings against Sunderland, claiming negligence and breach of contract. He is suing the club for pounds 500,000, alleging that the club failed to arrange suitable disability cover.

Neil Shipperley has completed his pounds 1.5m move from Crystal Palace to Nottingham Forest and could be in contention for Saturday's match at Newcastle United. Forest are thought to be planning to offer Bolton pounds 1.5m for their their Icelandic attacking midfielder, Arnar Gunnlaugsson, but the First Division club have offerd him a new contract in the hope of keeping him.

Celtic have signed Norwegian international Vidar Riseth from Austrian club Lask Linz on a four-year contract for an unspecified fee, believed to be about pounds 1.5m. The 26-year-old midfielder played in all of his country's matches in the World Cup in France this summer and has been capped 10 times in all.

Mark Bosnich has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association over alleged remarks to spectators. The Aston Villa goalkeeper's comments at the game between Everton and Villa were included in a police report of the incident on 15 August.

Another goalkeeper, Alan Knight of Portsmouth, has also been charged with misconduct following comments made to referee Roger Furnandiz after the Worthington Cup tie against Plymouth on 11 August.

Sheffield United and Swindon Town will face charges of failing to control their players after a brawl on the pitch on the opening day of the Nationwide League season.

Despite having decamped to the United States, the former Rangers defender, Richard Gough, has been fined pounds 500 by the Scottish FA for comments made after he was sent off against Hearts in February.