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Monday, August 2, 1999 Published at 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK


Man Utd boss 'was offered bribe'

Sir Alex: "The box contained money, bundles of the stuff"

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he was offered a £40,000 "bung" by an agent during the sale of Andrei Kanchelskis to Everton.

Sir Alex Ferguson talks about the £40,000 'bung'
Sir Alex said he was given a package at a Manchester hotel after United's 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest in 1995.

"What the box contained was money, bundles of the stuff," said Sir Alex.

He told the BBC he thought Russian agent Grigory Essaoulenko was giving him a samovar, or tea urn, when he handed over the big box saying it was a "gift".

The BBC's Leon Hawthorne asks: "How many more high profile managers have been subject to this? "
"He said, 'This is for you and your wife, thanks for all your help'. I got home, my wife opened it - £40,000," said the manager.

"I thought, why the hell is he giving me £40,000?"

He said he left the money with his secretary the next day, and informed the club's director.

Death threat

[ image: Kanchelskis: Transferred to Everton]
Kanchelskis: Transferred to Everton
In his autobiography, Managing My Life, Sir Alex claims the Russian agent also made threats against Manchester United's chairman, Martin Edwards.

The Kanchelskis deal did go through, but when United tried to return the "unwanted gift" of £40,000 to the agent before the transfer was finalised, he allegedly issued the threats.

Sir Alex said it was the first time he had seen the agent since the day of the "bung".

"He came over to try to force the situation about Andrei moving from Manchester United.

"I don't think Andrei knew what was going on, to be honest with you at the meeting - [the agent] made it quite clear that Andrei would have to go or the chairman would pay the consequences."

Sir Alex Ferguson talks about his future
In his autobiography, he says: "The angry exchanges came to a climax when he screamed at the chairman, 'If you don't transfer him now, you will not be around much longer'."

There is no suggestion that Everton acted improperly in the transfer of Kanchelskis.

'Insane' attacks on Beckham

Sir Alex Ferguson talks about Hoddle and Beckham
Sir Alex also pays tribute to David Beckham in his autobiography for the way he got over the vilification following his red card during England's World Cup exit against Argentina last year.

He says Beckham's kick on Diego Simeone was "foolish and blatant" - but adds that the criticism the player received was "totally insane".

"He may look as if butter wouldn't melt in the mouth, but underneath the boyish appearances and all the trappings of trendiness there is a steely determination that has to be admired," Sir Alex says of the player.

"Nobody should ever underestimate David Beckham."

Instead, he criticised former England manager Glenn Hoddle for forcing Beckham to attend the post-World Cup press conference.

He said although Hoddle had many qualities he was too inexperienced to be a good national team manager.

Gazza query

Sir Alex also cast doubts on the future career of Paul Gascoigne, whom the United boss is known to admire.

Gascoigne, currently at Middlesbrough, is struggling to regain consistent form and fitness and will find it hard to win back his place in the England team, he told Today.

"It is difficult to say. You have to think that when they get to 30 they have the experience - but it takes them a long time to get their form back.

"But Paul Gascoigne, from what I have heard, did at some time last year hit some great peaks.

"Even so, you just wonder about the length of time he has been out of international football and whether it will work for him."

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