Leeds United have been cleared of any financial impropriety over the Â£18m transfer of Rio Ferdinand from West Ham. Deloitte & Touche and the law firm Addleshaw Booth & Co carried out the review, and Leeds United plc issued a statement to the Stock Exchange.”The report confirms that the expenditure and payments for the transfer, including agents’ fees, were properly authorised in accordance with Leeds United policy,” it said. “The Audit Committee can also confirm that there is no evidence of any financial impropriety or lack of financial controls.”The former Leeds defender Jonathan Woodgate pulled on a Newcastle shirt for the first time yesterday as he prepared for his Premiership debut for the club. The England international eased his way through a 2-1 victory over Hartlepool United in a specially arranged friendly at the Magpies’ Darsley Park training headquarters to put himself into contention for a senior bow in Saturday’s league game with Chelsea.Jermaine Jenas was yesterday awaiting a scan on his ankle injury, with Newcastle fearing they could lose the midfielder for up to four weeks. Jenas suffered suspected ligament damage in training on Friday and missed the 3-0 win at Leeds the next day.
He seems likely to be unavailable for tomorrow’s Champions’ League game with Bayer Leverkusen at St James’ Park.The Manchester City striker Paulo Wanchope faces another month on the sidelines after dislocating his shoulder. The Bolton striker Henrik Pedersen will be out for up to five weeks with a shoulder injury.. Sir Alex Ferguson is tonight likely to provide Uefa, the governing body of European football, with incontrovertible proof that their campaign to reduce the size of the Champions’ League is well founded. Although Manchester United are one of the big European clubs lobbying to retain the current bloated structure, their manager is planning to rest players against Juventus in Turin Â a tie which is the very essence of the competition Â to keep them fresh for the Worthington Cup.
This improbable development will bring whoops of joy from officials of the beleaguered Football League, whose flagship competition had seemed, like many of its Nationwide League entrants, to be on its knees. Instead, it has been taken increasingly seriously by Manchester United and Liverpool this season, culminating in Sunday’s final at the Millennium Stadium.”We will have one eye on Sunday,” admitted Ferguson when discussing his team selection for tonight.
“If there is anyone who is at all a doubt, they won’t play.”Had United booked a quarter-final place Ferguson’s decision to prioritise a competition he previously dismissed would be unremarkable; but they still need a point at the Stadio Delle Alpi to be sure. While they have the safety net of a subsequent home tie with Basle, yesterday’s assertion that “we can take a risk” reflects both the pressure of going 21 months without a trophy and the long rivalry with Sunday’s opponents. But it is also a result of playing Juventus eight times in seven seasons. As much as Ferguson and Gary Neville waxed lyrical about the famous comeback victory here in 1999, and the significance of what Neville described as an “eye-opening” defeat three seasons previously, the fixture is no longer such a stand-out This is hardly surprising. Before 1996 United had met Italian opposition eight times in 40 seasons This is their 13th subsequent such tie As Neville remarked: “There are a lot of familiar faces. We know a lot about each other.”The most likely players to be rested are Roy Keane, whose recalcitrant hip is becoming a major irritant, David Beckham, who is carrying a calf injury, and Ruud van Nistelrooy who, where United are concerned, is irreplaceable.