Football: Sugar sheds light on Anderton situation

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The Independent Online
ALAN SUGAR, the Tottenham chairman, yesterday went public on Darren Anderton's refusal to sign a new contract - saying to no one's great surprise that "it is all about money".

Anderton, the 27-year-old Spurs and England winger, is holding out for improved terms on his current deal with the White Hart Lane club which expires next summer and means he can then leave on a free transfer. There have been suggestions that the sticking point is over the length of contract, with Anderton wanting a shorter-term deal than the one currently offered to him.

"To put the record 100 per cent straight, the problem is in respect of money and money alone," Sugar said. "I cannot comment on what Darren Anderton may or may not have said to the press but the facts are that he wants to go above the club's top pay limits. Suggestions that the impasse relates to length of contract are totally untrue."

The Spurs manager, George Graham, says Anderton has turned down Tottenham's "top offer" which would have given him pay-parity with his team-mates David Ginola and Sol Campbell on around pounds 22,000 a week. "We have a budget just like Manchester United and other top clubs and we cannot risk the financial ruin some have faced by going beyond it," Graham said. "For me it was nice to see the attitude Arsenal adopted over the Nicolas Anelka situation and Leeds in the Jimmy Hasselbaink case.

"I'm sure if it was just a case of giving them the money they wanted they could have done it. But they decided to show that no one individual was bigger than the club and I applaud that. It is said that players' wages are getting out of hand and that they have too much power which will ruin the game. So long as clubs stand firm on pay their pay policies, I see no real problem.

"There is one club that pays more than everybody else and we all wonder how they can do it. It may encourage a few other clubs to sneak up gradually to the same level but if everybody keeps their head it will be all right."

Tottenham have confirmed their purchase of Oyvind Leonhardsen from Liverpool for pounds 3m. The midfielder's move to White Hart Lane went through too late for him to be eligible for Spurs' opening game of the season at West Ham today. The 28-year-old Norwegian cost Liverpool pounds 3.5m when he joined them from Wimbledon in 1997.

Francis Jeffers has taken Everton by surprise by asking for a transfer on the eve of the season. Arsenal are the favourites for his signature.

The teenage striker, who made the England squad last season, is angry that his manager, Walter Smith, has dropped him and that the club will not give him a new contract.

"This is not just about money," an associate of Jeffers said last night. "There is a clash of personalities here." Arsenal are apparently willing to offer around pounds 6m for Jeffers, which would mean, if their bid for the player is successful, spending the last of the Nicolas Anelka money on a third new striker to follow Thierry Henry and Davor Suker.

Just in case Coventry City players are feeling more secure than Jeffers, their manager, Gordon Strachan, brought reality to bear on Highfield Road.

The striker Darren Huckerby has already been linked with a move to Leeds, and Strachan said yesterday: "Everyone is for sale at the right time and the right price."

Sunderland have completed the signing of John Oster from Everton in a deal worth up to pounds 1m. The 20-year-old Welsh international winger has signed a three-year contract.

Newcastle's Swedish striker Andreas Andersson has returned home to AIK Stockholm. The 25-year-old has joined the Swedish club in a deal thought to be worth pounds 2m.