Football: Wednesday reject Lombardo's demands

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The Independent Online
On the day it was estimated that Alan Shearer would earn more than pounds 6 per second of competitive action in the new season, Sheffield Wednesday took a stand against the "crazy money" being sought by some players when they pulled out of a pounds 3.7m deal for the Italian international Attilio Lombardo.

Wednesday, whose record outlay stands at the pounds 2.75m paid for Des Walker and Andy Sinton, took their stand after talks with the Juventus winger's lawyer. Lombardo's wage demands were reputedly in excess of Shearer's "basic" of pounds 1.3m a year with Newcastle, a sum the Premiership club were unwilling to pay a 30-year-old player.

"We're very disappointed," Wednesday's secretary, Graham Mackrell, said. "After we worked very hard and agreed a fee with Juventus, and went to Italy twice, the player's expectations were such that we had to pull out. The offer would have made him one of the highest-paid players in England, but we weren't prepared to pay what can only be described as crazy money.''

Queen's Park Rangers changed hands yesterday - for two-thirds of Shearer's transfer fee - when the entertainment entrepreneur Chris Wright paid pounds 10m to end the Thompson family's seven-year controlling interest. The new owner, whose business interests began when he co-founded the Chrysalis record label in the 1960s, said: "I'm delighted the deal is done, but sorry it has taken so long.''

Wright has also completed his takeover of Wasps rugby union club, who will play some Courage League fixtures at Loftus Road next season. "We're now in a position to sort out some of the operational details of how the two two clubs will be working side by side," he said.

Meanwhile, Tyneside surrendered to Shearermania yesterday, when the final 5,000 tickets for the England striker's debut in Sunday's Charity Shield match were snapped up. Around 600 supporters camped overnight outside St James' Park to ensure their places at Wembley.

Newcastle's opponents in the curtain raiser, Manchester United, welcomed Karel Poborsky, their pounds 3.5m midfielder from the Czech Republic, to training for the first time yesterday. Jordi Cruyff's pounds 1m move from Barcelona should be completed today, but Roy Keane may miss Sunday's game.

The Irishman, who is nursing a knee injury, was withdrawn during the weekend win at Nottingham Forest after the referee, David Elleray, advised Alex Ferguson to substitute him following several reckless challenges. Elleray warned yesterday that the Charity Shield referee, Paul Durkin, would have "no room for such discretion" in a game which provided a "benchmark" for disciplinary standards.

Chris Sutton, the less celebrated half of Blackburn's disbanded SAS striking partnership, may be fit to start the season after learning that the injury he sustained in Saturday's friendly at Colchester was nothing more than soft tissue damage. Blackburn initially feared a broken leg.

Nottingham Forest are ready to sell Andrea Silenzi, but cannot find a taker for the giant striker who made only seven first-team appearances last season and scored just two goals. Silenzi arrived for pounds 1.8m from Torino a year ago but never really impressed at the City Ground.

Middlesbrough hope that their record buy from Italy, Fabrizio Ravanelli, will receive his international clearance in time for his debut against his his former club Juventus tonight. Middlesbrough have sold the Bolivian forward, Jaime Moreno, to the Major League Soccer side Washington DC United for pounds 100,000.

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