Jewell fury as McCulloch seeks move

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The Independent Football

Rangers' pursuit of Lee McCulloch has provoked a furious response from the Wigan manager, Paul Jewell, after McCulloch, 28, handed in a written transfer request yesterday, citing "family reasons" for wanting to move to Glasgow.

Earlier this week, Jewell criticised Rangers' initial offer of £750,000 as "derisory" and "insulting". Wigan paid £700,000 for the player almost five years ago, and he has since been capped by Scotland and established himself in the Premiership. He signed a new three-year contract at Wigan last summer.

Jewell is particularly angry at the role of an agent, John Viola, who it is understood Jewell feels has been agitating to get McCulloch a move. Technically, Viola is not McCulloch's agent. The player's contracted representatives are from the Professional Footballers' Association player agency, who are bemused at events. Viola, who is agent to the Rangers captain, Barry Ferguson, a close friend of McCulloch, has been speaking on McCulloch's behalf this week and seeking a move for him.

Jewell scoffed at McCulloch's reasons for wanting a move, saying the "family" concerned are Rangers, who can only benefit from McCulloch officially saying he wants to leave Wigan. "I've had this fellow from Scotland [Viola] who has come on to me this week claiming he is Lee's agent, but he isn't," Jewell said.

"I don't want to keep unhappy players, but I don't want to let players go for nothing either," he added. "Walter Smith knows my stance. Nothing is going to be done unless it is an unbelievable offer - and even then, I probably won't consider it."

Rangers had been expected to table an improved bid of £1.1m, but that has yet to materialise. Wigan are unlikely to consider any figure below £2m.