July 1996

Monday 1 Graham Kelly confirms that the FA are interested in bidding for the 2006 World Cup, and says: "One of our early acts will be to inform the Germans of our intentions. What we won't want to do is split the vote as far as Europe is concerned." Scotland and Wales will not be involved in the bid. South Africa are also likely to be candidates.

Tuesday 2 After much wrangling Leeds have been taken over by the Caspian group, backed by ex-QPR sugar dad, Richard Thompson. Howard Wilkinson may spend some of their money to tempt David Batty, no, Jamie Pollock, easy mistake to make. West Ham sign the out of contract Paulo Futre from Milan with more big names to come: "We're going back to the era of Moore, Hurst and Peters," says Frank Lampard, clearly dreaming of cup runs, relegation battles and 4-0 defeats at Leicester.

Wednesday 3 The beast is back – Graeme Souness is the new Southampton manager. "He is someone who will have the respect of the public and the players," says Lawrie McMenemy, who must be living on a different planet. FIFA sell the rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups for £1.4 billion, a German satellite company, Kirch, having outbid the European Broadcasting Union. FIFA insist that national terrestrial channels will still get access to the matches. Plenty of time to change their minds, though. Chelsea are to sign Lazio's Roberto di Matteo, while Fabrizio Ravanelli is to leave Juventus for Middlesbrough for £7 million. "I feel like I'm being off-loaded," he says, which is not exactly a thumbs up for the Boro, but he's probably just a bit shocked, as indeed we all are.

Tuesday 9 Fifty people are believed to have been killed in a riot during a football match in Libya when the referee allowed a debatable goal scored by Al-Ahli, a team owned by Colonel Gaddafi's son. Supporters of the opposing team, Al-Ittihad, invaded the pitch and security guards opened fire. Dimitar Penev pays the penalty for Bulgaria's disappointing showing at Euro '96 by getting the sack. His nephew Lubo is also to be dropped from the national squad.

Wednesday 10 Terry Venables has been offered a stake in debt-ridden Portsmouth. "He's definitely interested," says a club spokesman. Well, it's nearer to the continent than London. Middlesbrough are alleged to have made an £11 million offer for Gabriel Batistuta of Fiorentina, which they deny. Boot on the Other Foot Dept: David Ginola could be leaving Newcastle for Barcelona. "Talks have taken place and David wants to join Barcelona," says his agent. "My view is that he is not for sale at all," says Terry McDermott. UEFA may have to shelve plans to enlarge the Champions League to twenty four teams because of the difficulties of fitting the extra fixtures into the schedules. England were one of the eight countries who would have had an extra representative.

Thursday 11 "Rumours that David Ginola has spoken to Barcelona are rubbish," says his agent, who has been the main source of the rumours. It seems that Barcelona will be spending most of their spare cash, as much as £15 million, in fact, on PSV's Brazilian Ronaldo. We can remember a time when people thought Bobby Robson had no idea. Southampton vice chairman Keith Wiseman is the surprise choice as new chairman of the FA. "I have an enormous range of problems to deal with," he says, astutely. He seems likely to implement a blazer cull, reducing the size and influence of the 91-member FA Council.

Friday 12 The PFA threaten to hold a strike ballot after the Football League refuse to give them 10% of the new £25 million Sky deal. The League had previously made an annual payment of roughly £550,000, used mainly to fund players' vocational training. "We have not paid 10% to the PFA since 1987," says a League spokesman, while Gordon Taylor replies: "The regulations have been changed from the PFA having the right to this money to it being at the discretion of the League management committee. It is beginning to look as though we are heading towards industrial action."

Tuesday 16 Bad news for Manchester entrepreneurs who've invested in Poborsky fright wigs – he now seems set to stay with Slavia Prague, who have turned down the £3.5 million offered by Man Utd. Newcastle are given council permission for an application to build a 65,000-capacity stadium at Castle Leazes Park despite objections from local residents. St James' Park may then be given over to Newcastle rugby club, which should produce matchday scenes reminiscent of Queens Park playing Scottish Division Two games at the old Hampden Park. Birmingham City have paid a club record fee of £1.5 million for Chelsea striker Paul Furlong. "He is a team player, the type fans can relate to," says Trevor Francis. Over to you, Birmingham fans.

Wednesday 17 Blackburn turn down Man Utd's latest bid for Alan Shearer and offer £4 million for Eric Cantona. "I know he's not on the transfer list, but neither is Shearer," says Jack Walker. David Ginola will not now be going to Barcelona who appear to have settled for bringing back Hristo Stoichkov. "It is not to be and it is out of his mind now," says Terry McDermott. Robert Ullathorne becomes the first English League player to make use of the Bosman ruling, leaving Norwich for Spanish club Osasuna on a free transfer. Donal Gray, a teenage player with Irish League club Glenavon, suffers injuries that may end his career after a beating by an IRA 'punishment squad'.

Thursday 18
Sky may be showing pay-per-view games by next year according to Villa chairman Doug Ellis, but only away matches initially. "It is the viewers' privilege and they can pay it or not pay it," says Ellis. "Pure speculation," says a Premier League spokesman. The new TV deal, beginning in 1997-98, includes provision for pay-per-view.

Saturday 20 Plymouth chairman Dan McCauley is to charge the press for watching matches at Home Park, seemingly in retaliation for the critical coverage given to his announcement that he is putting the club up for sale . . . because he's tired of being criticized. Bad news for barbers – Karel Poborsky is going to join Manchester United after all.

Sunday 21 A shock in the Olympic football tournament (you might have caught five minutes of it in between the dressage and the rowing) where Brazil are beaten 1-0 by Japan and Italy, coached by Arrigo Sacchi's likely successor Cesare Maldini, lose by the same score to Mexico.

Monday 22 Italian news update. Fabrizio Ravanelli arrives at Middlesbrough and says, "I have been set the challenge of helping this club win it's first major trophy in more than 100 years"; Gianluca Vialli has an injury and fails to make his Chelsea debut at Exeter, where a crowd of 10,000 see the home team win 2-1; Sheffield Wed seem to have dropped their interest in Juventus's Attilio Lombardo; and Paul Peschisolido (OK, a Canadian) leaves Birmingham again, this time for West Brom. At least he and Karren won't have to move house.

Tuesday 23 Gary McAllister joins Coventry from Leeds for £3 million. "You wouldn't force your wife to stay if she wanted to go and live with someone else," says Howard Wilkinson, enigmatically. Jordi Cruyff, available for £1.5million, might be about to become Man Utd's fifth overseas signing of the summer. Barry Town become the first League of Wales club to win a European tie, beating Dinaburg of Latvia 2-1 away after a goalless first leg.

Wednesday 24 Taylor set to land England Under 21 Role trumpets Ceefax. A nation clutches its head, feels its stomach churning, drops the remote control, and eventually finds out its Peter, ex-Southend manager. The country retires to bed with two aspirin after making a note to ring the BBC and complain. Stevenage Borough win and lose in the High Court. The judge rules that the League's regulations concerning finance and the deadline set for ground improvements constitute restraint of trade, but he also upholds the League's decision to block promotion on the grounds that Stevenage's court action has come too late.

Thursday 25 Leeds director Peter Gilman fails to get a court ruling that would block the sale of the club to the media group Caspian, but will appeal. "Now we can start getting the players we want," says Howard Wilkinson. Nigel Martyn is the first to sign up after changing his mind about a move to Everton. John Lukic will now move to Arsenal on a free as Bruce Rioch's first signing of the summer. Not quite the sort of deal being called for by Arsenal fans, who plan to protest about the club's lack of activity in the transfer market.

Friday 26 Newcastle shareholders vote to split the football club from its other activities which will now be run by a new parent company, The Sporting Club. Alan Shearer, back from his hols, has talks about his future with Ray Harford and Blackburn chairman Robert Coar. Shearer has a verbal agreement that he can move if he is unhappy or if there is a good chance of him getting astronomical wages from a club with 'United' in their name. With two of their new signings having failed medicals, Borussia Dortmund may not now be willing to release Patrik Berger, for whom Liverpool have offered £3 million.

Satutrday 27 The Crafty Lawyers of the Month work for Celtic, who are to press claims that they should receive a transfer fee for John Collins whose new club Monaco is not in the EC or EEA and therefore, it is argued, not subject to the Bosman ruling. Defending champions Spain are out of the Olympics at the quarter-final stage, beaten 4-0 by Argentina, who will now play Portugal, who beat France 2-1 with a 'golden goal' penalty.

Sunday 28 "We have put in a genuine offer for Shearer but they are inclined to get irritable in that part of the country if we press the issue," says Alex Ferguson, not trying too hard to improve relations between Blackburn and Man Utd. Brazil reach the Olympic semi-finals after coming back from behind to beat Ghana 4-2, and will face Nigeria, 2-0 victors against Mexico. In the women's semi finals, the US beat Norway, 2-1 courtesy of a 'golden goal', and China beat Brazil 3-2.

Monday 29 Alan Shearer is to join Newcastle for a world record £15 million. "We are the biggest thinking team in Europe now. It is a signing for the people of Newcastle," says Kev, keenness personified. "I couldn't ignore the challenge of going home to wear the black and white shirt" says Alan, who has signed a five year contract worth around £1.5 million a year. "Blackburn were not keen to sell to us and that made it impossible," says Man Utd's Martin Edwards, twitching slightly.

Tuesday 30 Blackburn claim to have offered Alan Shearer the manager's job when he retired in an effort to keep him at Ewood Park, which may come as news to Ray Harford. Within a day of Shearer signing, Newcastle have sold 100 £1,500 season tickets in a new luxury suite at St James' Park. The England youth team qualify for next year's World Under-19 Cup in Malaysia (and one of those long plane flights home) after finishing third in the European Youth Championships.

Wednesday 31 Nigeria beat Brazil 4-3 in the Olympic football semi-final after being 3-1 down with fifteen minutes to go, thus denying Juninho the chance to become the first Middlesbrough player to appear in a major cup final. They will play Argentina, 2-0 winners against Portugal. West Ham are to report Torquay's Jon Gittens to the FA after a clash with Florin Raducioiu in a friendly which left Raducioiu with a gashed face. Still in Torquay, their former player John Uzzell is to press on with a court case against Gary Blissett who fractured Uzzell's cheekbone in a League match three years ago while playing for Brentford.

From WSC 115 September 1996. What was happening this month