Premiership defender? 30 tracksuits, please

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The Independent Online

One of the silliest domestic football rules is the one which forbids clubs from officially announcing transfer fees. How this is supposed to help transparency in financial dealings and prevent managers and agents siphoning off a bung is unclear.

One of the silliest domestic football rules is the one which forbids clubs from officially announcing transfer fees. How this is supposed to help transparency in financial dealings and prevent managers and agents siphoning off a bung is unclear.

The Sweeper is delighted, however, to be able to set the record straight on one contentious fee, concerning the value of a young English player of whom we are destined to hear more. Zatyiah "Zat" Knight is a prodigiously tall (6ft 6in) Fulham defender, a sort of elongated Rio Ferdinand, who in the past fortnight has distinguished himself against such cunning old foxes as Chelsea's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Derby's Fabrizio Ravanelli, as well as keeping a clean sheet against the less cunning Foxes of Leicester City on his Premiership debut.

In his early days at Rushall Olympic in the Midland Alliance, he was courted by Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, then decided to sign for Kevin Keegan's Fulham. As he was technically not under contract, no fee was payable, but Olympic's secretary Peter Athersmith says: "Kevin was brilliant about it and, even though we weren't entitled to anything, he kitted out our whole squad in new track-suits, 30 of them."

Cheap at the price for a current Premiership player, but it is believed to have smashed the existing track-suit record, the 12 that Gillingham famously paid Crockenhill for Tony Cascarino, who went on to win 88 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

 

ZAT AND his Fulham friends will discover today whether the Craven Cottage match-day announcer "Diddy" David Hamilton (yes, the former Radio 2 icon) possesses psychic powers. After Wednesday's Worthington Cup match against Derby he told the home crowd that the result of the tie between Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace the same night was of particular interest "as we play the winners in the next round". Since the draw (which is no longer a Wimbledon tennis-style grid format) is not until lunchtime today, he clearly knows something the rest of us do not.

 

NEVER MIND the curse of Hello! magazine, Ipswich Town supporters are increasingly worried about the fate of guest editors of the club's in-house magazine. First up was David Johnson, who had barely shut down his lap-top than he was sold to Nottingham Forest. Then came the England goalkeeper Richard Wright, who was soon off to Arsenal, and a cover-piece with Suffolk lad James Scowcroft, "Ipswich through and through", professing his love for the club – that's the James Scowcroft now playing for Leicester City. Worst of all, the editor for the issue out this month is none other than Marcus Stewart, last season's player of the year.

 

THEY DON'T LEARN, do they? Just a few days after a punter in Blackpool plunged in with a £10,000 bet on Tottenham to hold on to their 3-0 half-time lead over Manchester United, another man with an eye for a not-so-sure thing walked into a William Hill shop in Middlesbrough and wagered the same amount on England beating Greece, at 5-1 on.

So, for anyone still toying with the idea of lumping 10 big ones on Chelsea against Leicester this afternoon, here is news of how badly the bookmakers are suffering in these difficult times. Ladbrokes are opening what they claim to be the most hi-tech betting shop anywhere, at a prestigious location just behind Trafalgar Square. It has an Italian-style café, internet terminals and virtual reality gambling machines, to help you lose real money on virtual racing. And the cost of fitting out this temple to over-optimistic punters? "Between £500,000 and £1m," says a Ladbrokes spokesman.

 

IMAGINE CHELSEA'S match-day magazine being edited by Ken Bates' son and you have some idea of Gillingham's. It may also be that Adam Scally, the son of chairman Paul, is the youngest programme editor in the country.

Brought in at short notice earlier this season, the boy will go far, if he continues to publish no fewer than five pictures of dad in every edition, which supporters were treated to in this week's Worthington Cup issue. He might wish to beware, though, of introducing the Priestfield's next Premier League visitors as "whipping boys". Southampton, 10th in the Premiership last season, duly cruised home 2-0.

Scally Snr, with two pages to fill (even Ken only gets one) was in vintage Bates-like form in his continuing propaganda war with the Gillingham Independent Supporters' Club, "dangerous, vindictive amateurs.... the cancer that is festering within this fine club". Meanwhile, the GISC, whose leaders – like the local newspaper Kent Today – are banned from the ground, was still handing out leaflets protesting at a previous programme article. This one, the Scally-wags will ensure, will run and run.

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