Agents deny Cole threat over move from City to Portsmouth

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The Independent Football

Andy Cole's representatives have denied claims made yesterday by the Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce that the former England striker threatened to retire unless he was given permission to leave Eastlands and join Portsmouth.

Cole, 34, signed for Portsmouth for an initial fee of £500,000 last month, and City will double their money depending on the number of appearances he makes at Fratton Park. Pearce said that City were warned Cole could quit if he was not allowed to move to the south coast club, who offered him a two-year contract.

Cole had been entering the final year of his City contract, and following the interest from Portsmouth he was offered fresh terms at Eastlands.

However, a spokesman for Proactive Sports Management, who act as Cole's agents, said: "It never was the case that either Andy or us on his behalf threatened that he would retire. Manchester City had no offer on the table until the 11th hour. When they did produce an offer it came nowhere near to matching that made by Portsmouth."

Cole missed the end of last season after a knee-ligament injury but Pearce had hoped that he would be an integral member of his squad in the new campaign. He joined City only last summer and Pearce said that he was shocked to learn Cole wanted to leave.

"There were suggestions that the player might retire if I didn't let him go," Pearce said. "After that was suggested to me what choice did I have?

"In the terms of negotiations it was mentioned that this deal [from Portsmouth] was too good to turn down and it might be a case of the player retiring if we did not agree to the transfer. That came from the agent.

"It was a bit disappointing and as soon as you hear that then you just move on and say, 'Right, OK'. We decided - myself, the chairman and the chief executive - to take the money on the player and move on."

Cole is unlikely to make his start for Pompey on Saturday against Wigan as he took part in his first full training session only yesterday. He signed for City in July 2005, scoring 10 goals in 23 games before an injury in February ruled him out for the season.