Football: Wolves sign Thomas for pounds 800,000

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The Independent Online
GEOFF THOMAS, Crystal Palace's England midfielder for whom Arsenal offered pounds 2.5m last summer, yesterday moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers for pounds 800,000.

The 28-year-old Thomas rejected a transfer to the First Division club over the weekend but has now reconsidered. 'I am certain Wolves will be celebrating promotion at the end of the season,' he said. 'I think Wolves are going to be another Blackburn.'

Jonathan Hayward, the chairman, agreed. 'The signing of Thomas is a watershed for the club and people can be in no doubt that we are going where we are meant to be - the Premier League.'

Graham Turner, the Wolves manager, said: 'We faced considerable competition from a number of top- level clubs but our burning ambition for football at the highest level pursuaded Geoff to come to Molineux.' Wolves' financial muscle lured David Kelly from Newcastle for pounds 750,000 last week.

Newcastle's great rivals, Sunderland, have offered Sir Tom Cowie, a former owner of the Roker Park club, a chance to re-invest. Cowie claimed he was prepared to inject pounds 10m into Sunderland to help restore them to the game's premier ranks.

The Roker board issued a statement, saying: 'We would not wish to deny the club and its supporters the fresh injection of pounds 10m that Sir Tom will make. Sir Tom has stated that he is committed to becoming a majority shareholder and a director. Therefore on the fulfilment of Sir Tom's offer, the four non-executive directors will resign en bloc.'

Celtic, another great club living in a giant's shadow, yesterday concluded a four-year shirt sponsorship with the double-glazing company, C R Smith. The deal is expected to be worth pounds 1m.

Rick Parry, the chief executive of the Premier League, has offered referees an interim payment of pounds 200 per match, instead of the pounds 400 they are seeking. The officials, who currently receive pounds 165 per outing, gave the League an assurance last week that they had not contemplated strike action despite the disparity in demands. Linesman, who are paid pounds 75 per match, have been offered pounds 100.

Improved refereeing standards would be rewarded, Parry stressed. 'We are striving to raise standards and want to explore changes in assessments, training and fitness which will bring about improvements. Then we would be happy to agree a substantial increase in fees.'

The break-up of Milan's Dutch triumvirate looks definite. Ruud Gullit, valued at pounds 2m, is consulting with his wife before signing for Bayern Munich while Frank Rijkaard, also 30, is close to rejoining Ajax.

Enzo Scifo has joined the exodus from Italy, Torino's Belgian playmaker signing for Monaco for pounds 3m. Elsewhere in France, Jean Tigana has accepted his first managerial post at Lyon.

Andrew Marriott, the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper, has signed a new three-year contract.