United dismiss Ravanelli's transfer claim

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The Independent Online
With the season not yet two months old, Fabrizio Ravanelli's future at Middlesbrough was thrown into doubt yesterday when reports from Italy indicated that he was seeking a move from the Premiership club.

Ravanelli, who is in Italy with the national squad for their World Cup qualifier against Moldova on Saturday, was quoted as saying Manchester United were interested in him, although Martin Edwards, United's chief executive, emphatically denied this.

"It's absolute nonsense," Edwards said last night. "There is no foundation in these stories whatsoever. There has been no discussions with Middlesbrough and it came as a complete shock to get calls about them."

Ravanelli was reported to have said: "The idea is exciting because Manchester United are more representative and prestigious, they have greater ambitions, while Middlesbrough have a long-term programme. Let's wait and see what happens on my return to England. After you've won a lot, as I have, it's not easy to fight for a place in the Uefa Cup."

While a move to Old Trafford looks unlikely, it is thought Ravanelli is unsettled at Middlesbrough and he may return to Italy's Serie A with a move to Parma, who are believed to be keen on signing him during the Italian league's transfer window next month.

Joe Royle, the Everton manager, has warned Andrei Kanchelskis to keep his mind on his game after rejecting an offer from Italian side Fiorentina. "Andrei has to get on with playing football and leave the other side of things to us. I will be having a word with him," Royle said.

Paul McGrath is reconciled to leaving Aston Villa after his transfer row with Brian Little, his manager. McGrath has handed in a transfer request after seven years at Villa and will today meet the club chairman, Doug Ellis, who has placed a pounds 200,000 price tag on the player.

The saga involving Mark Guterman, the Chester City chairman, and Manchester City took a new twist yesterday when the property tycoon called off a news conference at which he had been expected to announce details of a proposed offer.

His explanation suggested that he had lost interest in helping out City: "I have had an amicable meeting with Francis Lee, the Manchester City chairman. I remain chairman of Chester City FC and will devote all of my efforts towards ensuring its future and development."

However, Bill Wingrove, Chester's club spokesman, later said that the news conference had only been postponed. He also said the idea of Chester acting as a "feeder club" for City was still under consideration.

Meanwhile, the Carlisle chairman, Michael Knighton, has revealed that he rejected an approach to take over City. Knighton, who made an audacious bid to gain control of City's neighbours Manchester United in 1989, says he was targeted by an unnamed consortium to be chief executive five weeks ago.

"I didn't really give it a second thought," he said. "I wasn't asked for any real financial investment as they just wanted me to run it. I have to say I was rather flattered."

Martin Scott, the Sunderland defender sent off in last Saturday's defeat at Arsenal, has had a second operation in three months. Scott had a hernia operation before the season began and had further surgery on Monday on a groin injury.

Meanwhile, his manager, Peter Reid, has accepted that he will be asked by the Football Association to explain his reactions to Scott's dismissal which resulted in referee Paul Danson ordering him from the dug-out.

"I expect I will be receiving some mail from the FA fairly soon," he said. "Everything I have to say on the situation I said on Saturday and I stand by that. I was unprofessional and I have apologised."

The Portsmouth manager, Terry Fenwick, first-team coach Keith Waldon, and director Terry Brady, have been charged with misconduct by the Football Association after alleged remarks made to the referee Martin Bodenham after last week's Coca-Cola Cup defeat by Wimbledon.

England's World Cup qualifying match against Poland next Wednesday has been made all-ticket following the sale of 50,000 seats. No tickets will be available on the night.