Peschisolido's return enlivens quiet deadline day

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Football

GUY HODGSON

Transfer deadline day, traditionally a fevered rush to get players registered, passed with almost eerie tranquillity yesterday. Typical of the mood, the one record that was broken belonged to non-League Rushden & Diamonds.

The total amount of money exchanging hands was less than pounds 5m which concurs with the less than dramatic trend of recent years and the highest price was the pounds 1.4m Manchester City paid for the Georgian international striker Mikhail Kavelashvili.

The prize for the most intriguing move went to Paul Peschisolido whose pounds 600,000 transfer from Stoke went through two minutes before the 5pm deadline. His destination is Birmingham City and his wife-cum-managing director, Karren Brady.

Other than that the highest profile transfer was at Blackburn Rovers, where the manager Ray Harford took his spending in the past week to past pounds 4m by signing Grimsby Town's Gary Croft. The 22-year-old defender, who can play either as a left-back or central defender, cost an initial pounds 1m, which could rise by another pounds 700,000, and follows the pounds 3.2m purchase of Garry Flitcroft from Manchester City.

Strangely, the chief activity centred at a place where transfers were pursued but none took place. Leeds United turned down a pounds 3.5m bid for Gary Speed from Everton and a pounds 1m deal for Rod Wallace to rejoin Southampton fell through.

Speed, 26 and a boyhood Everton fan, has been the subject of enquiries from Goodison before but yesterday's bid was the firmest and most substantial. It is understood that Joe Royle's offer made it past the "no chance" stage of negotiation to the Leeds board where it was rejected partly because of a fear of fans' reaction in the wake of the club's humiliating Coca- Cola Cup final defeat. Even so, Howard Wilkinson, who has vowed to stay on as manager, is planning a clear-out.

"I have never been a quitter. I have never run away from a problem in my life and I don't intend running away from this one," Wilkinson said.

Southampton's interest in Wallace, which broke down because of the player's reluctance to return to The Dell, conformed to type as there was transfer activity at the bottom of the Premiership. Bolton paid Bradford City pounds 300,000 for goalkeeper Gavin Ward while West Ham also bought a new goalkeeper, Australian Steve Mautone, from Canberra Cosmos for pounds 30,000. In the First Division, Charlton collected pounds 250,000 by selling Kim Grant to Luton.

As for Rushden & Diamonds, the Beazer Homes league leaders paid a non- League record of pounds 85,000 to the GM Vauxhall Conference club, Kettering, for striker Carl Alford.

YESTERDAY'S LEADING TRANSFERS: Mikhail Kavelashvili, Spartak Vladikavkaz to Manchester City, pounds 1.4m; Gary Croft, Grimsby to Blackburn, pounds 1m; Paul Peschisolido, Stoke to Birmingham, pounds 600,000; Gavin Ward, Bradford to Bolton, pounds 300,000; Kim Grant, Charlton to Luton, pounds 250,000; Paul Cook, Coventry to Tranmere, pounds 250,000; Carl Griffiths, Portsmouth to Peterborough, pounds 225,000; Gincarlo Corazzin, Cambridge to Plymouth, pounds 200,000; Scott Taylor, Millwall to Bolton, pounds 150,000; David Lowe, Leicester to Wigan, pounds 125,000; Anthony Gallimore, Carlisle to Grimsby, pounds 125,000; Steve Cowe, Aston Villa to Swindon, pounds 100,000; Martin Gray, Sunderland to Oxford, pounds 100,000.

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