Football: Villa say pounds 10m for Yorke `too low'

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The Independent Online
ASTON VILLA continued to shrug off the unwelcome advances of Manchester United for Dwight Yorke yesterday after they rejected what they have described as United's second and final faxed offer of pounds 10m for the striker.

The Midlands club have long maintained that they would only be prepared to sell Yorke if United met their asking price of pounds 16m for the Trinidad and Tobago international.

John Gregory, the Villa manager, was optimistic the matter was now over because United had said they were not prepared to increase their offer. "United's fax last night said this would be the last offer, and I am delighted," Gregory said.

The United solicitor and director Maurice Watkins admitted they had been rebuffed, but he refused to say if the club would try a third time. "I can confirm that we did make an offer of pounds 10m for Dwight Yorke and that it was rejected," he said. "That is the only comment we are making at this stage."

United also suffered on another front when a tribunal ruled that Huddersfield Town must only pay pounds 275,000 for Ben Thornley, based on appearances. United had wanted pounds 500,000 for the winger.

The West Ham midfielder and England Under-21 international, Frank Lampard, pledged his future to the east Londoners yesterday when he signed a new five-year contract.

The Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Wilson has denounced speculation linking him with a player-plus-cash deal for Nottingham Forest's Pierre van Hooijdonk as "absolute fabrication".

Forest rate the Dutchman at pounds 8m after he refused to return to the City Ground this summer. Wilson, however, was adamant that he had not offered Andy Booth plus pounds 3m for the striker. "There has been no contact between Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest. The story is absolute fabrication," he said.

Forest, meanwhile, have tabled an undisclosed bid for the Le Havre defender Matthieu Louis-Jean, who has been on trial at the City Ground.

The former West Bromwich Albion defender Shane Nicholson will discover at a hearing at Lancaster Gate today whether he will be allowed to continue his career. The 28-year-old was banned from "all forms of the game" by the Football Association in April after being found guilty of failing to submit a random drugs test in February.

The Chelsea player-manager and former Juventus captain, Gianluca Vialli, has described the Roma coach Zdenek Zeman as "the stingiest man in soccer" and said he was relishing the prospect of taking the Czech to court over doping allegations. Vialli, responding to comments made by Zeman last week, strenuously denied he had taken drugs while at the Turin club between 1992 and '96.

"It will be a joy to relieve the stingiest man in soccer of millions of lire and give it to charity," Vialli told La Stampa. "That would cause him more pain than anything else."

Vialli stressed that he had never been pressured by Juventus to take illegal drugs.

Zeman, meanwhile, was being questioned by a prosecutor about his allegations that some players may use performance-enhancing substances.