Football: Villa ordered to pay Barry's Brighton fee

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THE PREMIER LEAGUE has imposed a suspended fine on Aston Villa over their refusal to pay Brighton pounds 200,000 for Gareth Barry, and diverted the money from the Premiership club's television revenue to the Third Division club.

Villa had paid Brighton an initial pounds 150,000, as ordered by a transfer tribunal, but declined to hand over the pounds 200,000 they were told to pay when the 17-year-old defender made 20 appearances for the club, claiming he was over-priced.

Now the Premier League Board has stepped in, given the pounds 200,000 to Brighton and imposed a pounds 16,000 suspended fine on Villa, with the threat of calling in the sum if the Premiership club does not pay up when Barry reaches other landmarks. If Villa refuse to pay any further instalments, as well as imposing the fine the Premier League can ensure the Premiership club will have to pay further penalties.

The Crystal Palace chairman, Mark Goldberg, has strongly denied suggestions that the club's chief executive, Jim McAvoy, is poised for a takeover at Selhurst Park.

McAvoy was only appointed two months ago to help resolve Palace's financial problems, but now considers his position "untenable" as he admits he is "in fundamental disagreement over the direction and management of the club".

However, yesterday Goldberg said: "A takeover by McAvoy or anyone else is not possible as I am not selling my stake in Crystal Palace."

The Football Association's technical director, Howard Wilkinson, has countered a club v country wrangle by insisting he will not be calling on the Premiership's leading young players for the Under-20 World Cup later this year.

Wilkinson was heading for confrontation with those clubs who feared he would pick their best youngsters for the competition, to be held in Nigeria from 3 to 24 April, but he said: "I never had any intention of taking players who are involved on a regular basis with their first teams."

Paulo Di Canio has been passed fit to again play for Sheffield Wednesday, but his return to the Premiership is on hold as the club are refusing to meet all the disgraced Italian's demands. After a medical last week, the 30-year-old forward - banned for 11 weeks for pushing over referee Paul Alcock - has been given the all-clear to return, but has made a number of requests, chiefly that he be paid the wages docked by the club, which amount to pounds 102,000.

West Ham's efforts to check the form of the Rangers striker Marco Negri has hit a snag. The Hammers wanted to play the Italian in reserve games this week against Brighton and Peterborough.

However, FA rules say a player registered to a league in another country can not play trial games, so West Ham would have to commit themselves to a three-month loan if they wanted to play Negri in the Combination. The club claim it is too early to do that but, if they like what they see in training, could negotiate a loan deal to keep him in east London until the end of the season.

West Ham's search for a replacement for John Hartson, sold to Wimbledon last week, is unlikely to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian says he is happy to remain at Manchester United. "If I had been at any other club but United then I think I would have gone to the manager and asked to leave," he admitted. "But I want to stay here and win things."

The French Under-21 international Cedric Marcelin has joined Southampton on a week's trial. Saints hope to arrange a loan deal with the Bordeaux midfielder if he impresses this week.

Birmingham are giving a trial to AIK Stockholm's Swedish international Alexander Ostlund. The 21-year-old striker will play for the club's reserves against Sunderland today.

David Platt has made his first permanent signing at Sampdoria. The Portuguese midfielder Giudoni Dorival Jnr cited the former England skipper as the reason behind his move from Porto to Serie A.