Football: Newcastle capture 'bargain' Hottiger

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NEWCASTLE UNITED put British transfer fees into sharp perspective yesterday when they signed a World Cup full-back for pounds 600,000.

Marc Hottiger, an impressive forager on the right for Switzerland in the United States, turned down a German club and committed himself to St James's Park for three years. Terry McDermott, Newcastle's assistant manager, described the 26-year-old from Sion as a bargain, saying the deal 'proves the English transfer market is inflated.'

Two other premiership clubs, Everton and Queen's Park Rangers, acquired new chairmen. Peter Johnson, the former owner of Tranmere, finally moved in to Goodison Park, while 30-year-old Richard Thompson stood down at Loftus Road.

After more than a year of negotiation, Everton's shareholders backed Johnson's takeover, voting 1,695 to 22 in favour of his pounds 10m rights issue. Johnson said all his cash injection would be available to the manager, Mike Walker.

The shareholders' decision was backed by Bill Kenwright, the Everton director who was initially a rival bidder for the club but who has agreed to stay on the board.

Thompson, the target of protest from QPR fans after the sale of several top players for big fees over the past few years, will stay on as a director but his fellow board member Peter Ellis will take the chair. Thompson Investments retains overall control of the club.

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