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.
"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".
"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.
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."
There is no suggestion that Everton acted improperly in the transfer of Kanchelskis.
'Insane' attacks on Beckham
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.
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."