Football: Tottenham guilty of poaching

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IT MIGHT not represent a major dent in their budget, but Tottenham Hotspur set an unwanted Premiership record yesterday when they were fined pounds 25,000 for poaching their manager, Osvaldo Ardiles, from West Bromwich Albion, writes Rupert Metcalf.

The White Hart Lane club were found guilty of misconduct by a Football Association disciplinary commission in London. The fine was a record for this type of offence.

Spurs were also severely censured, warned as to their future conduct, and ordered to pay the costs of the hearing. Albion, whom Ardiles led to promotion last year before his contested departure in June, claimed that the former Argentina and Tottenham midfield player had verbally agreed a new contract with them, and alleged an illegal approach by the Premiership club.

Tottenham are considering an appeal. 'We feel we did everything by the book,' Alan Sugar, the Spurs chairman, said. 'In common law West Bromwich Albion have no claim on Ossie - but there are differences in FA laws.' West Bromwich are to proceed with a writ against Ardiles, alleging breach of contract.

Ardiles found time to conclude a transfer deal yesterday, bringing his old Spurs team- mate, Micky Hazard, back to White Hart Lane from another of his former clubs, Swindon Town, for pounds 60,000.

The Republic of Ireland will still have to journey to Windsor Park, Belfast, for their decisive World Cup qualifier on Wednesday week. The volatile security situation in Northern Ireland had led to speculation that the game might have to take place on neutral ground, but Fifa, world football's governing body, has given the go-ahead for the venue after receiving security guarantees from the authorities in Belfast.