July 1999

Thursday 1 The Department of Employment issue new rules on work permits. Players will be given permits for the length of their contracts rather than having their cases reviewed at the end of each season, and the rule stipulating that non-EU players must be among the top five wage earners at their clubs is scrapped. Forest's search for a manager ends with the appointment of the impressively tanned David Platt, who says: "The two months I had at Sampdoria were a massive learning curve." That's just what Sampdoria fans will have been thinking when they went down. The charges against Sol Camp≠bell for assaulting a steward after the Derby v Spurs match last autumn are dropped. Arsenal spend £3.5 million on a Brazilian full back, Silvinho, who says: "I have been following Arsenal ever since I knew they were watching me."

Friday 2 The PFA's Gordon Taylor criticises the changes to work permit rules. "We already have more foreign players than anywhere else in the world. Removing the wages criteria means you are opening the door to players who are not neccesarily top quality". Terry McDermott joins the Barnes-Dalglish dream team at Celtic as "social manager" – a highly specialised position which involves a lot of shouting and laughing plus the collecting of betting slips.

Saturday 3 Sports Minister Tony Banks rejects Alex Ferguson's claim that the government pressurised Man Utd to take part in the Brazil wingding: "You can't expect other countries to vote for you if you do not take part in new contests. I was told by FIFA representatives that they would not vote for England if United did not go to Brazil. I had a duty to pass that on." George Graham, never happier than when he's buying centre backs, pays £4 million for Wimbledon's Chris Perry.

Sunday 4 Argentina's Martin Palermo gets a hat-trick in the Copa America against Colombia. Unfortunately for him, it's a unique hat-trick of missed penalties. Colombia, who also miss one and score one, win 3-0, while Argentina's Javier Zanetti and coach Marcelo Bielsa are sent off. Apart from that, the ref had almost nothing to do. In the women's World Cup semi-finals, USA beat Brazil 2-0, while China thrash defending champions Norway 5-0.

Monday 5 Chelsea almost double their record transfer fee by paying £10 million for Blacburn's Chris Sutton, the first English player signed by Gianluca Vialli and only the third by the club since Ruud Gullit took over in 1996. "It's a tough game and Chris is a tough competitor," says Vialli. Lazio officials fly home after failing to meet Arsenal's asking price of £22 million for Nicolas Anelka in the summer's most tedious tranfer saga. "It's Lazio that interests me now. It's a very big club," says Anelka perceptively. As the Lazio raiding party exits through customs at Heathrow (nothing to declare, yet) they pass their friends from Roma going in the other direction, hoping to capture Rio Ferdinand. "If he leaves there'll have to be an auction," says Harry Redknapp. "That's the only way we will discover his real value." Tony Pulis quickly crosses himself off the shortlist for the Wales job by joining Bristol City, bringing to an end Benny Lennartsson's ill-fated spell in charge. "He's hungry and he's a winner," says City chairman Scott Davidson. FIFA's idea for the day is that the 2002 World Cup should start three weeks ahead of schedule, on May 23rd, to avoid the rainy season in east Asia. That's just before the European Cup final then.

Tuesday 6
Mark Goldberg announces in documents sent to his creditors that he has lost a staggering £70 million in the year since he took over at Crystal Palace. Yet still they queue up to offer money to Terry Venables. This time it's south Wales popsters Manic Street Preachers, who say they will pay £30,000 towards his salary if he gets Wales to the World Cup finals. If only Australia had thought of that cunning contract condition.

Wednesday 7 West Ham sell Eyal Berkovic to Celtic for £5.5 million. "I want to be the Juninho of Scotland," he says mysteriously. West Ham will try again to buy Paulo Wanchope having had one bid rejected, but they've ruled out a bid for Paul Ince: "He is a great player but the club are concerned about his popularity with the supporters," says Harry Redknapp. Peter Taylor, lately of England Under-21s, is the new manager of Gillingham.

Thursday 8 Arsene Wenger joins in the criticism of Man Utd's withdrawal from the FA Cup: "It's a bad decision. To go to play in a business tournament nobody knows about and to be out of the FA Cup is unbelievable." Sunderland sell Lee Clark to Fulham for £3 million and look set to get £4 million from Spurs for Michael Bridges. "Michael had one year left on his contract and quite simply he no longer wanted to play for us," says Sunderland chairman Bob Murray. The FA announce that two players failed drugs tests last season. One, Reading midfielder Byron Glasgow, has been sacked by his club, the other is an unnamed teenager with a Premiership team.

Friday 9 Culture Secretary Chris Smith wants Man Utd to reverse their decision to pull out of the FA Cup. "If it is possible to ensure that United play in Brazil and in the FA Cup then we must seize that opportunity." Cup sponsors AXA, apparently in the grip of madness, have offered to fly United's fourth round opponents to Brazil to play the tie there. United deny that Martin Edwards is to sell up to 15 per cent of his stake in the club to a consortium backed by billionaire Joe Lewis who already part-owns Rangers. The Asian Confederation votes to withdraw from the 2002 World Cup in protest at not being given three qualifying places in place of the two places plus a play-off on offer at the moment. The row will have to be sorted out by December when the draw takes place. "FIFA cannot give in to this kind of pressure. It's a disgrace," fumes Sepp, dying to send Big Daddy Jo„o around to sort them out.

Saturday 10 The US win the women's World Cup, beating China 5-4 on penalties after a goalless match. "It's going to have a bigger impact than people ever realised," says the watching Bill Clinton. Sunderland's Michael Bridges will not be joining Spurs after all, having failed to agree terms. Lazio are on the verge of a deal to sign Nicolas Anelka, who says, "I hope they make one little sacrifice to come close to the English and satisfy them." Arsenal deny, however, that their vice chairman David Dein came to blows with Anelka's brother during transfer negotiations. The News of the World claims to have a tape recording of the Scotland manager Craig Brown singing anti-Catholic songs. Brown is to sue for defamation, saying: "I am not and have never been a bigot."

Monday 12 The Granada media group pay £22 million for a nine per cent stake in Liverpool. "We've not sold our birthright and it's not a takeover," says chief executive Rick Parry, while his opposite number at Granada says: "Working with Liverpool we will create substantial new revenue streams and generate a good return on our investment." So that's nice. Sam Hammam rebuffs West Ham's apparent interest in bringing big bad boyo John Hartson back to Upton Park: "It appears that Harry blundered in letting us have the player, so now he wants him back. Well, too late pal."

Wednesday 14 Alex Ferguson, angling for a good row to keep him occupied over the close season, harrumphs at Aston Villa's apparent willingness to pay £6 million for Wolves' Robbie Keane. "At that price I wouldn't go near the player. Aston Villa can have him." Gary Megson, lately dumped by Stockport, continues to work his way through the clubs in alphabetical order by becoming the new manager of Stoke.

Thursday 15 So, now Lazio up their offer to £20 million, the extra £2 million mostly coming from commission fees waived by Anelka's agent/brothers. "It would be irresponsible of the Arsenal management not to settle on these conditions," says Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti. "I hear that the fans treat the game like a religion here," says £6 million man Kieron Dyer on joining Newcastle from Ipswich, seemingly via another planet.

Friday 16 Man Utd's £25,000-a-week pay ceiling will be broken if they agree to Roy Keane's conditions for signing a new contract. Keane wants a deal worth £2 million a season. Kevin Campbell finally joins Everton from Trabzonspor for £3 million. John Rudge, Mr Port Vale until a few months ago, becomes "football executive" at Stoke. "I had 19 great years at Vale Park," he says. "I'm sure the supporters will understand my situation."

Saturday 17 West Ham take a 1-0 lead to Fin≠land for the second leg of their Intertoto third round match with FC Jokerit. "It was a purely phy≠sical thing. By next week we'll be a lot fitter," says Harry Redknapp, and his Finnish counterpart ag≠rees: "The players need a week just to sweat out the alcohol. It will be a case for doping control if they don't beat us again."

Sunday 18
Martin Edwards denies a report that Man Utd had offered to field their youth team in the FA Cup: "I think it would devalue the competition even more for us to do that." Fulham take Stan Collymore on loan for three months. "A lot of people have said things but the most important thing is that he wanted to come and play for Fulham," says Paul Bracewell. Brazil win the Copa America, beating Uruguay 3-0 in the final.

Monday 19 Moroccan midfielder Mustapha Hadji becomes the first player for some considerable time to say "This is a dream move for me" after joining Coventry, for £4 million. "I've never hidden the fact that I want to go into management. Whether it's here only time will tell," says Alan Shearer after signing a new five-year deal with Newcastle worth nearly £40,000 a week. Andy Cole is to be sued by Australian defender Simon Colosimo who faces a year out with a knee injury sustained in a late tackle during Man Utd's friendly match in Syd≠ney. A man is found dead under the West Stand at Stamford Bridge having apparently caused an explosion while trying to set fire to the ground.

Wednesday 21 Outrage as the European Union impose a token fine of only £650 (no noughts missing) on the organisers of the 1998 World Cup as punishment for having operated a ticketing system that favoured French residents. George Boateng leaves Coventry for Villa for £4.5 million but there is still to be an FA inquiry into Villa's alleged illegal approach last season. "There is no need for bad blood but the way they have dealt with this has irritated a lot of people," snarls Coventry chairman Bryan Richardson, prodding another pin into his John Gregory doll. Dieter Hamann joins Liverpool from Newcastle for £8 million, saying: "People would find it difficult understanding my choice but I see their problems as a one- or two-year affair." Wales' Champions League hopes are thwarted again, with Barry Town bowing out in the first qualifying round, 3-2 on aggregate to Floriana of Malta. Glentoran go out 5-0 to Litex of Bulgaria.

Friday 23 Rangers will have to get past Finnish champions Haka then Parma if they are to reach the group stage of the Champions League. "This is a very interesting draw," groans Dick Advocaat. Chelsea, one round further on (keep up) will play the winners of the match between Skonto Riga of Latvia and Rapid Bucharest.

Saturday 24 "A Premiership side should win this sort of match," mutters Harry Redknapp after West Ham tiptoe into the next round of the Intertoto after drawing 1-1 with Jokerit . Narky Nicolas is given two days to find a new club or return to Arsenal. Juventus deny rumours that they are prepared to buy Anelka and loan him to Lazio for two seasons. Two agents who represented 16-year-old Jermaine Pennant during his transfer from Notts County to Arsenal earlier this year are to appear before a Premier League tribunal charged with offering illegal inducements. Both could lose their FIFA licences if found guilty.

Tuesday 27 Arsenal take Nicolas Anelka off the transfer list. Lazio, however, are still keen. "Talks have not been in any way concluded," sighs their spokesman. With the new season only ten days away, West Brom sack manager Denis Smith, who says: "Certain players have been trying to get rid of me but I thought I had beaten the threat." Newcastle release teenager Anthony Parry, who had failed an FA drug test earlier in the year and has since admitted to being a heroin addict.

Wednesday 28 The Office of Fair Trading fail in their attempt to have the Premier League TV agreement nullified in the High Court which rules that the current deal, giving Sky exclusive live access, is not against the public interest. This prevents the bigger Premier League clubs from selling coverage of their home matches separately. For now. Maverick buffoon Tony Banks resigns as sports minister in order to devote his time to spearheading England's exciting 2006 World Cup bid. Bruce Grobbelaar will be able to wear a different broad-brimmed hat every day of the year after winning £85,000 in libel damages from the Sun for alleging that he conspired to throw matches. Rangers win 4-1 in Finland in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying tie and West Ham beat Heerenveen 1-0 at Upton Park in their Intertoto "semi-final".

Thursday 29 New sports minister Kate Hoey begins by criticising Man Utd's decision to pull out of the FA Cup: "I think it's something that should not be happening. They've treated their supporters in what I would say was a shabby way." Plans for the new Wembley are unveiled. It will have 90,000 seats and a retractable roof, with an athletics track that can be placed over the pitch when needed. The twin towers will be demolished and replaced with four giant masts, visible from Mars, more or less. Leeds turn down Atletico Madrid's bid of £10 million for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who is refusing to sign a new contract.

Friday 30 Germany lose to the USA for the second time within a year, 2-0 in the silly Confederations Cup. Last time it was 3-0 so they're getting better. Acne king Christian Ziege is to join Middlesbrough from AC Milan for £4 million.

Saturday 31 Scotland kicks off. Rangers scrape a 2-1 win at home to Kilmarnock, Hearts win 4-1 at St Johnstone. Clydebank draw a record low attendance of 29 for the League Cup match with East Stirlingshire staged at Cappielow, home of their new landlords, Greenock Morton. Martin Edwards responds to Kate Hoey's criticism of Man Utd's withdrawal from the FA Cup. "She is speaking from a position of ignorance. We made the decision with full government backing and it is disappointing that it is being jeopardised by a change of personnel within the government." Leeds' team coach is attacked before their pre-season match at Birmingham City during which Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is persistently booed by his own fans.

From WSC 151 September 1999. What was happening this month