`Guilty' verdict on Graham is denied by Parry : FOOTBALL

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The Independent Online
Claims that George Graham, the Arsenal manager, had already been found guilty of accepting a £285,000 payment have been denied by Rick Parry, the Premier League chief executive leading the investigations into financial irregularities.

The Premier League inquiry team has a list of 23 transfers, mainly involving Scandinavian players, which they want to probe. Two concern the Danish international defender, Torben Piechnik, and the Norwegian Stig Inge Bjornebye, who were both signed by Liverpool. "We will be talking to Liverpool in due course, but our priority at the moment is to deal with the Arsenal situation," Parry said yesterday. "The accusations may well involve another association, and I would like to think we could co-operate.

Following a story in the Sunday Mirror that Graham had been found guilty of breaking FA regulations and could face a world ban from the game, Parry said that "every possible legal remedy available to man" would be taken against the newspaper. He said it was "absolutely wrong and nothing more than baseless speculation". He added: "George Graham has not even been charged with anything yet so it's nonsense to say a verdict has already been brought in.

"whether anyone has chosen to speculate on their own is something I will have to find out. we must be allowed to evaluate the information and pursue the investigation in a thorough and proper fashion."

Parry will also be speaking with Steve Coppell who, along with Robert Reid QC, makes up the panel. Coppell, who was quoted yesterday as saying: "It seems George accepted the money and then repaid it. The facts seem clear-cut. Now it is a question of determining intent."

Parry added that the inquiry will extend to Norway and they want to speak with Rune Hauge, the agent who is alleged to have paid Graham out of the transfer money received by the Danish club, Brondby, when they sold John Jensen to Arsenal in 1992. It is understood the Arsenal manager has admitted receiving the money while maintaining it was not connected with transfer business. He is thought to have repaid the £285,000 plus interest to Arsenal, and the commission will endevour to discover why it was not returned to Hauge himself.

Manchester City were also caught up in the controversy yesterday, when it was said that Kare Ingebrigtsen has admitted accepting a "bung", believed to be £50,000, as part of the £550,000 transfer from the Norwegian club, Rosenborg, in January 1993, another deal arranged by Hauge. Bernard Halford, the City s e cretary, said all the transfer money was paid directly to the club. "The player had no extra payments from us."

John Fashanu and Paul McGrath could return for Aston Villa at Southampton tonight as manager Brian Little seeks a first win since his controversial move from Leicester. Fashanu has recovered from an Achilles tendon injury to join a five-man scramble for two attacking places, while McGrath could take over from Ugo Ehiogu, who misses his first game of the season through suspension. Little has Fashanu, Dean Saunders and Dwight Yorke all available again to challenge Guy Whittingham and Graham Fenton for attacking places.

"I've not really had an option since coming to Villa. It gives me the chance to pick a team that I think can do a job." Little said. McGrath has been left out of the last two matches but Little insists the veteran defender still has a role to play at theclub and this week rejected transfer overtures from Tranmere.

Little's three outings with Villa so far have all resulted in draws. He added: "It's important that we start getting back on the winning trail. What we need to do now is to convert those draws into three pointers."

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