Spurs signing has Ferguson incensed

Sat, Jan 5, 2013, 00:00

Alex Ferguson wants the Premier League to examine Tottenham Hotspur’s signing of Ezekiel Fryers from Standard Liege, with the manager claiming there will be a mobile phone “trail” after the north London club failed to agree terms with Manchester United for the defender during the summer.

Had Tottenham pushed ahead with a move for Fryers (20) at that time, a fee would have been set by a Premier League tribunal, which might have been expected to award United compensation of £5 million-£6 million for the former England Under-19 defender, who was out of contract. Taking Fryers from Liege is thought to have cost Spurs about £900,000.

The Belgian club paid United £250,000 for the Manchester-born Fryers last summer, a fraction of United’s target fee because the player was moving abroad rather than between Premier League clubs.

Ferguson said: “I am disappointed in Tottenham, I really am. I think it has been a blatant manipulation of the situation. They tried to buy him from us at the end of last season but we couldn’t agree terms. They then took him on trial and took him to Portugal with the squad and came back and said that they couldn’t afford him. And then all of a sudden he signed for Standard Liege and at that moment in time, when I heard that, I expected him to go to Tottenham in the January window.

“I’m disappointed in Tottenham. The Premier League should look into it and I think they should stop the registration until they examine it. There will be a trail, mobile phone or something. It is obvious to me.”

Spurs deny any impropriety. A spokesperson said: “Zeki was out of contract in the summer, we had looked into the possibility of signing the player but were unable to agree a deal on the terms Manchester United were asking. Zeki chose to go to Standard Liege, who paid compensation to Manchester United. Zeki enjoyed his time at Standard. However, when they sacked their manager in November Zeki was not part of the new manager’s plans, which he accepts and understands happens in football.

“Unfortunately, a combination of this and the fact he had become homesick meant he wanted to return to England. His representatives made contact with clubs in England and this afforded us a second opportunity to sign the player.”

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