Venables under fire in parliament

Football

MARK BURTON

If it is a parliamentary debate on sport, it must be time to raise the subject of the England coach's business affairs again.

The name of Terry Venables was heard once more in the Commons yesterday when Kate Hoey, the Labour MP for Vauxhall, told the House that the Department of Trade and Industry was conducting fresh investigations into Venables' affairs. Under protection of Parliamentary privilege, Hoey repeated claims she made last year concerning Venables' dealings during his time as Tottenham's manager.

Hoey, who once worked with young players at both Spurs and Arsenal, said the DTI was investigating allegations that Venables "may have made a misleading, false or deceptive statement in an offer document". She said she understood other things were "being looked into" and there could soon be "some developments on that".

While a DTI spokeswoman refused to confirm or deny the claim and officials at Football Association headquarters declined to comment, an angry Venables was quick to respond through his solicitor. Nick Trainer said on Venables' behalf: "Kate Hoey's persistent and cowardly use of Parliamentary privilege to rehash old and tired allegations against me is objectionable. It demeans her both in its partisan nature and its lack of accuracy. The source of her material is questionable.

"I am totally unaware of the alleged DTI investigation to which she refers. Either it is untrue or it is yet another chapter in a sorry saga of the DTI leaking information to the prejudice of those involved."

Trainer also said Howey had "naively accepted" information from her sources at face value.

Hoey repeated her view that allegations of "backhanders" in football may have got too big for the authorities to deal with alone. She protested that there had not yet been a report from the two-year Premier League investigation into the transfer of Teddy Sheringham from Nottingham Forest, then managed by Brian Clough, to Tottenham in 1992. Clough has strenuously denied allegations that he received a "bung" during the deal.

There was a further development in negotiations over television rights yesterday when the Leicester City chairman, Martin George, revealed that when the Football League's management committee failed to agree in time on the pounds 120m five-year offer, the FA improved its offer by giving about pounds 21m of marketing rights back to the clubs.

The League had wanted more time to consider an alternative partnership proposed by the Premier League after a threatened revolt of the smaller clubs.

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