Michael Owen signs on dotted line at Stoke but Tony Pulis must sweat over beating deadline

 

Former England striker Michael Owen last night signed for Stoke, ending a four-month search for a new club since being released by Manchester United. The 32-year-old has agreed a one-year deal after failing to re-ignite his career at Old Trafford during three injury-blighted seasons.

Owen's deal was not entirely secured last night, as the Premier League board had still to establish that Stoke had not left senior players out of their 25-man squad Premier to accommodate him – which is against League rules. Stoke do have a substantial number of senior players already on their books and it is also unclear whether the club hit yesterday's 4pm deadline to submit their list – as-yet unpublished – in time to include the striker.

Owen was a free agent and able to sign after the transfer window closed last Friday. The former Liverpool forward made four appearances last season for United and has not played competitively since November.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have made no moves towards signing a free agent and appear to have settled with the strike force they have for the first half of the Premier League campaign, despite equipping Brendan Rodgers with no replacement for Andy Carroll. Liverpool have ignored a number of players, including Owen, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Tuncay Sanli to leave Rodgers with two senior strikers and unable to call Carroll back until January.

The denial of Rodgers' request for Clint Dempsey is a result of the failure to adhere to the football management structure agreed by the Fenway Sports Group when the Northern Irishman was appointed in June, rather than an unwillingness to spend. John W Henry's open letter to supporters also provided the latest of the owner's frequent communications about the club's determination to adhere to Uefa's Financial Fair Play .

Sports lawyer Daniel Geey, of Field Fisher Waterhouse, offered the view yesterday that Liverpool may be concerned about complying with FFP and that if clubs running up £100m losses find themselves excluded from Europe, those who comply may qualify in their places.

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