Football: Sharpe signing far from certain

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The Independent Online
LEE SHARPE'S cut-price move from Leeds United to Bradford City hinges on his Elland Road team-mate, Gunnar Halle, agreeing to a move to Valley Parade.

The combined pounds 400,000 deal will only go through if both players agree personal terms. The Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale said yesterday that, if Halle rejects the move, Sharpe's price will increase.

The move is by no means cut and dried, as both earn more at Leeds than Bradford's highest-paid players. Sharpe has a year of his contract to run, while Halle signed an improved contract six months ago that ties him to the club until the summer of 2001.

Ridsdale said: "The proposal is more complicated than the pounds 400,000 which Bradford chairman Geoffrey Richmond has made public. I have agreed a deal for the sale of Halle, I have agreed a deal for the two of them and I have agreed a deal if one goes. If Bradford don't take Halle for the agreed fee, it would make a difference to the amount Sharpe would cost."

Explaining why Leeds are prepared to let Sharpe go so cheaply after paying Manchester United pounds 4.5m for him three years ago, Ridsdale said: "Clearly Lee doesn't figure in David O'Leary's plans. We have about 30 full-time professionals, we are building for the future and we are looking to reduce the wage bill, so we will have some scope when dealing with the wages of players we hope to bring to the club.

"I don't think Lee Sharpe or Leeds United would benefit if he came back here for the final year of his contract after his loan spell at Bradford."

The Manchester City manager, Joe Royle, is keen to sign Sharpe if Bradford's bid is unsuccessful. Royle met Sharpe in an airport hotel before the player signed on loan for Bradford but Sharpe chose to join the Yorkshire club instead. The Maine Road club now plan to speak to the winger before the weekend.