Football: Royle fails in Sharpe snatch

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LEE SHARPE signed for Bradford City last night - but only after Joe Royle failed in his attempt to hijack him at Manchester Airport.

Royle, the Manchester City manager, met Sharpe for talks after the former Manchester United winger had arrived back in England from an unhappy spell in Italy at Sampdoria. However, Sharpe turned down Royle's late offer and has joined Bradford City on loan from Leeds United for the rest of the season.

Everton's bid to sign Michael Thomas has collapsed because of a tax problem. The former Liverpool midfielder was set to leave Benfica to sign for Walter Smith's struggling side for the rest of the season. However, Thomas cannot return to England within a year of moving to Portugal without being liable for a bill of around pounds 200,000 from the Inland Revenue.

Sheffield United have signed the Ivory Coast-born French Under-21 international midfielder Olivier Tebily for an undisclosed fee from the French Second Division side Chateauroux. Earlier this week the Blades sold David Holdsworth to Birmingham for pounds 1.2m and Graham Stuart to Charlton for pounds 1.1m

Liverpool's Oyvind Leonhardsen is wanted by Rangers to help them out of an injury crisis. The Norwegian international midfielder is out of favour at Anfield and is available at around pounds 1m.

Sunderland have signed the Danish international midfielder Carsten Fredgaard from Lyngby for a fee of around pounds 1.8m, subject to a medical.

The Tottenham striker Rory Allen is joining Queen's Park Rangers on loan. Bury are trying to sign the former Morton striker Derek Lilley on loan from Leeds United.

Manchester United's Northern Ireland international midfielder Phil Mulryne is set to sign for Norwich City for pounds 500,000. The Canaries have also taken the Chelsea midfielder Paul Hughes on loan, and are still pursuing the Newcastle striker Paul Dalglish.

Aberdeen have signed the Hearts forward Jim Hamilton for pounds 250,000. The Edinburgh club could use the income to bid for Celtic's Scotland forward Darren Jackson.

Southampton have lodged a second appeal against the Department for Education and Employment's refusal to grant a work permit to the Latvian international forward Marian Pahars, whom they want to sign from Skonto Riga.

Uefa, European football's ruling body, has refused an appeal by the Chelsea chairman, Ken Bates, for the European Cup-Winners' Cup final to be switched from Villa Park to Wembley. The Stamford Bridge side face Real Mallorca in the last four next month and may meet Lazio in the final.