English Championship

Champ clubs looking for changes

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Wed, 20 Mar 2013 17:55:00

Andreas Weimann's agent has played down speculation that the Aston Villa forward could be set for a summer switch to Inter Milan.

The young Austrian has been one of the few positives for Villa in a difficult season which sees them battling against relegation in the Premier League.

Weimann has bagged 11 goals so far this term, leading to rumours in some quarters that a move to Serie A could be on the cards.

Robert Groener, who represents the 21-year-old, insisted that he had not heard from the Italian giants, but refused to categorically rule out a switch, particularly with his client's contract due to expire at the end of next season.

Groener told Interlive.it: "At the moment there is nothing concrete. I have not had any contact with Marco Branca or any other Inter directors.

"His contract with Villa expires in 2014, so if they do not renew then he could be sold over the summer.

"Playing in Serie A? Obviously Serie A is less prestigious than the Premier League, but it would be an honour for Weimann to wear the jersey of an historic and prestigious club like Inter.

"But, for now, there is nothing concrete."

The East End Park boss also described the past six months at the cash-strapped club as the worst of his footballing career.

The Pars have just six days to come up with ?134,000 or face being wound up after Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs took the 128-year-old club to court over an unpaid tax bill.

Dunfermline also understood to owe around ?8million to directors past and present and have repeatedly failed to pay their players on time this season.

It was confirmed earlier this month that Jefferies' squad and other staff received just 20 per cent of their wages.

But the former Hearts boss claims he and his squad only discovered the true extent of the financial crisis two weeks ago.

He told Press Association Sport: "Gavin Masterton has put a lot of money into Dunfermline. And there is no doubt he has done some good things.

"But he was dependant on a lot of things happening at the club.

"We as players and coaches just want to prepare properly and look after the football side.

"But you expect to get your salaries on time. The club can certainly be a wee bit late - that would have been okay with our players - but when it's gone on this long, there is a sense that we've been let down.

"A lot of the guys are dependant on that money and we didn't know how things were coming about.

"Gavin was trying to buy a bit of time but time ran out. The things he hoped would come off didn't and the up shot of that was that the players have been left with very little money coming in."

Earlier this month, majority shareholder Masterton announced he would walk away from the club and hand over his stake to supporters but talks with The Pars Community broke down amid acrimonious squabbles.

That has left another group - the Dunfermline Athletic Steering Group, led by ex-manager Jim Leishman - to try to raise the necessary cash needed to save the club.

But Jefferies believes the Steering Group is now being asked to tidy up the mistakes of the past.

He said: "This is probably the worst situation I've been in at a club.

"Dunfermline were at a stage a few years ago where they were able to spend decent money on trying to get success. They were in the top six of the SPL and in cup finals.

"But sometimes you just get carried away and start chasing it further and bring more players in. But like a lot of clubs have found, that will come home to roost.

"It's not managers' fault. They want to get what they can and if they get it, they will spend it on transfers or salaries.

"But it's down to people who run football clubs to say what they can spend and what they can't."

Dunfermline had started the season hoping to bounce straight back to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League after last term's relegation.

But despite mounting an early challenge for promotion from the Irn-Bru First Division, they have now find themselves 17 points adrift of leaders Morton.

Their lowest point came on March 2 when they were humiliated 4-0 at home by Partick Thistle and Jefferies admits the stress of the past few months has taken its toll on his players.

"Gavin was working hard and was promised some investment into the club through different routes," he said.

"He reassured everyone at the club when this all started that come the end of December, everything would be back on an even keel and everyone up to date with the money they were owed.

"But that didn't happen for various reasons.

"That led to frustration. When you are told 'it is coming, it is coming, it is coming', you can only go on so long.

"I said at the beginning that if it dragged on it would become a problem. We're into the fifth or sixth month now and that has happened.

"The players quite rightly became frustrated with the whole thing and the Partick game became the breaking point.

"But since then things have moved on. Gavin has understood that and it's forced him to move on.

"Everyone has now been explained to just what position the club was in. We didn't know that until a couple of weeks ago. But everybody knows where they stand now and the players have had to accept that.

"There has been a general change in the attitude. They know they are only hurting themselves by being frustrated. They have decided to get out there and use the football as an escape."

Platini echoed comments made by Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce yesterday that the searing heat in the Asian country will make playing football unbearable.

"In the summer, at 50 degrees, you can not possibly play football in Qatar," Platini said in an interview with Germany's leading sports magazine Kicker.

This is not the first time the former France midfielder has stated his opposition to holding the Qatar tournament in the summer and he is supportive of a winter break for domestic championships.

Platini also responded to FIFA president Sepp Blatter's comments that the decision to stage Euro 2020 across the continent would rip the "heart and soul" out of the tournament.

European football's governing body announced in December that it had taken the unprecedented step of hosting the event in several cities throughout Europe.

And Platini defended the decision, saying: "The name European fits better than ever, as the Euros will be held for the first time in Europe."

Smith was sacked as manager of Boro on Wednesday after 14 months in charge following a run of 14 defeats in 18 games.

Skipper Roberts - who had a brief stint as caretaker before Smith replaced Graham Westley at the club - has been placed in temporary charge while the board search for a replacement, and he has challenged his players make up for their dismal recent form.

"It's a massive disappointment for Gary and the management team to be leaving the football club because they were doing a lot for positive work for the team," he told Stevenage's official website.

"They've put a lot of positive things in place and brought a lot of players to the football club that will bring success in the future.

"For one reason or another it hasn't worked out, and I think as players we have to take a huge part of the responsibility for that.

"I think the players, on too many occasions, have let the management side down and we're fortunate that we're the ones who remain at the football club so it is up to us to show what we're all about for the rest of the season, to show a lot of character and that fighting spirit and I'm sure that'll start on Sunday at Tranmere."

"This season we started off on a tremendous run of form and took to the league very well - to go second in League One was another huge achievement. A third of the season had gone which showed it was no fluke, but for one reason or another we haven't been able to see it through and maintain that and we have been searching for that form ever since.

"We have shown flashes of it in recent weeks and that character and level of performance is what we need to show in the seven games that remain this season.

"As captain it is up to me to lead the dressing room and make sure that we get the very best out of ourselves. When I am in charge it's no different, it's all about leading by example and getting the best of your ability and that is what I'll ask from the lads."

The clubs have expressed their concerns that teams that are relegated from the Premier League will have too great a financial advantage.

The concerns were expressed at a meeting of the 24 second-tier clubs on Wednesday after they were presented with the Premier League's proposals for parachute payments to be ?23million for the first year after relegation.

Clubs in the Championship not receiving parachute payments would get just ?2.3million.

The outcome of Wednesday's meeting was inconclusive, with the Football League board asked to come up with a range of options and to continue discussions with the Premier League, club sources confirmed.

The increase in parachute payments from ?16million is because of the rise in the Premier League's TV rights from 2013-16 - and it effectively decides on the level it pays.

The Football League clubs were informed of the proposed rises in a letter from chairman Greg Clarke.

The proposals is for relegated clubs to receive ?23million in the first year, ?18million in the second and ?9million in years three and four. It would mean a possible total of ?59million over four years compared to the maximum now of ?48million.

The new offer of solidarity payments for League One clubs are for ?360,000 and ?240,000 a 6.6% and 5.4% rise respectively.

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