Football: Palace poised after angry Middlesbrough pull out of Padovano transfer

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The Independent Online
Middlesbrough pulled out of the chase for Michele Padovano yesterday after accusing his agent of demanding an illegal payment.

The clubs had agreed a pounds 1.6m fee and the Juventus striker was due to arrive at the Riverside Stadium yesterday afternoon with his representative, Marcello Bonetto, to sign a contract until June 2001 and undergo a medical.

However, the deal was soon off. "We had agreed a financial package, but the deal has broken down because Middlesbrough Football Club were asked to pay a fee to an agent of $200,000 [pounds 118,000] net," the club said in a statement. "Middlesbrough Football Club is angry and can see no justification for this. Furthermore, Fifa regulations specifically preclude it. As a consequence we have been informed that the player will not be travelling to Teesside."

The Middlesbrough decision leaves the way open for Crystal Palace, though the Palace chairman, Ron Noades, said that he has yet to talk to the forward, but will be meeting Juventus representatives soon to discuss both Padovano and the possibility of the Italians buying a stake in the club.

"We will be negotiating personal terms with the player, hopefully during the course of this week," Noades said. "I have been have talking to Juventus about them taking an interest in Crystal Palace and about Padovano. The Padovano negotiations are on a straightforward transfer basis. We reached agreement on price with Juventus some time ago."

The owners of Juventus have been in contact with Palace, among other English teams, including the struggling Manchester City, about the possibility of investing money in them. With no reserve-team football in Italy, any deal would allow the Italians to farm out promising youngsters. "I have been talking to Juventus about taking an interest in Palace," Noades said. "It won't be finalised, because of their time constraints, until next summer.

"We won't be a nursery club for them. That is not what we are interested in at all." Juventus are owned by a holding company, IFI Spa, who bought out Fiat last year.

- Alan Nixon