Football: Rangers abort move for Kopke

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RANGERS YESTERDAY abandoned their attempt to sign Andreas Kopke because of difficulties with the German goalkeeper's home agent. Kopke's English representative, Dennis Roach, who had been in negotiations on Rangers' behalf, confirmed there would be no further moves.

Roach revealed that on three separate occasions personal terms were agreed with the player's German agent, Wolfgang Voge, only to be later rejected.

Kopke, a 36-year-old veteran of three World Cups, had looked poised to join Rangers on a free transfer this week. Indeed, on Monday a confident Roach insisted the player's switch had only been held up because of a delay in finalising his departure from Marseilles because of another agent being away in Tokyo.

At the time Roach said that the deal for the player had been "pretty much done" subject to a medical, but yesterday admitted Voge's ever-shifting position had aborted talks. "Unfortunately Andreas will now not be coming to Ibrox because we have been unable to agree matters with his representative Wolfgang Voge," Roach said. "We have had three separate rounds of talks and each time he has come back for more money. These excessive demands mean that effectively this matter is now closed."

Rangers must now turn their attentions elsewhere, meaning the Finn Antti Niemi looks certain to retain his place against Celtic at Parkhead on Saturday. Dick Advocaat, the Rangers manager, wanted Kopke's services because his first-choice goalkeeper, Lionel Charbonnier, is out for the season with knee ligament damage.

The Frenchman collected the injury during Rangers' 1-1 Uefa Cup second round second leg draw with Bayer Leverkusen at Ibrox.

Meanwhile, Rangers have announced that next Tuesday's Uefa Cup tie with Parma at Ibrox is a complete sell-out. A record 10,000 tickets were sold yesterday and many disappointed fans were turned away.

Ian Hosie, the stadium access manager at Ibrox, said: "The scenes at Ibrox were unbelievable. The queue extended from the ticket office down to the underground station, which is totally unprecedented."

Vinnie Jones, a player-coach at Queen's Park Rangers, will add wrestling to his burgeoning CV at the London Arena on 6 December. Jones, who has not played for the Loftus Road side since being passed over for the vacant manager's job last month, will act as minder to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin when the World Wrestling Federation roadshow comes to England.

Austin, who has been the target of an apparent vendetta by the WWF owner, Vince McMahon, will be backed by Jones when he takes part in a "Fatal Fourway" contest against Mankind, Kane and the fearsome Undertaker.

Jones' confidence for the role of Austin's minder will have been bolstered by the acclaim his new acting career has received. He recently played the part of Big Chris, a vicious debt collector, in the spoof British gangster film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.