Yeboah transfer may be blocked

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The Independent Online
Anthony Yeboah agreed to sign for Leeds United last night, but the transfer of the Eintracht Frankfurt player may be blocked by the Department of Employment, and is likely to become a major test case because of the nature of the deal.

Leeds have agreed to pay the German club a fee of £800,000 to take Yeboah for a year before deciding whether to proceed with a full transfer, valued at £3.5m. This arrangement suits both clubs and the player, who would make around £800,000 in wages and signing-on fees during the next 12 months.

However, Yeboah will have to apply for a work permit as a Ghanaian and a non-European Union citizen, and that is where the small print of the move will be under investigation.

The application from Leeds claims the deal is proposed to be worth over £3m, but the initial work permit will only run for a year, the length of his commitment to the Yorkshire team. That may be interpreted as a loan transfer, and therefore not a permanent deal in the eyes of the football authorities and, more significantly, the DoE. A D oE spokesman said last night: "We can't comment on individuals, but we would only issue a work permit for permanent transfers and not loan deals."

The habit of signing players on extended loan deals has been exploited by Premiership clubs, who in the past were restricted to a three-month maximum under Football League rules. There is no such arrangement in the Premiership, which allowed West Ham to sign Michael Hughes and Marc Rieper, and Southampton to bring in Ronnie Ekelund, while they consider whether to make the deals full-time.

The Yeboah case is likely to run into strong opposition from the Professional Footballers' Association. Gordon Taylor, its chief executive, is likely to query why such a high fee is being suggested for a player who is only certain to be in this country for a year.

The Parma striker, Faustino Asprilla, is to return to his native Colombia this week to face questioning over the alleged illegal possession of firearms.

Prosecutors are investigating an incident on New Year's Eve in which Asprilla was reported to have been found drunk in a bar, brandishing two pistols and provoking other customers. Asprilla, who is suspended for Parma's Serie A match against Fiorentina on Sunday, has denied the accusations.

Everton snubbed, page 31

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