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Monday, November 30, 1998 Published at 17:16 GMT

Smith knew nothing about Ferguson move

Walter Smith: Angry about more than his players

Everton have admitted that manager Walter Smith was kept in the dark about Duncan Ferguson's move to Newcastle.

Duncan Jones reports (BBC News 24)
The Goodison club on Monday confirmed that Smith was not told about the £8m sale until negotiations were completed.

He is believed to be angry that a statement saying as much was not issued over the weekend, after agreeing with chairman Peter Johnson that this would be done on Friday.

Speculation had grown that the Scottish manager was considering his position if what most fans suspected was not confirmed to them.

[ image: Club says it agreed to listen to offers for Ferguson]
Club says it agreed to listen to offers for Ferguson
The club will now hope that the eventual release of this news will defuse any row between Smith and Johnson.

But Johnson, who is believed to be trying to find a buyer for his 60% holding in the club, has stopped short of an apology to his manager.

It remains to be seen whether the exact wording of the statement is enough to satisfy Smith.

It makes it clear that manager Smith was not told details of the talks until after last Monday's match, in which Everton beat Newcastle 1-0.

The key point of the document says: "A substantial offer for Ferguson was received from Newcastle which was discussed with that club's representatives immediately before and during the course of last Monday's game.

"Their discussions resulted in an agreement being reached at the time.

"Unfortunately, details of these discussions were not passed to Walter Smith during the course of the game and it is regretted that he learned of the final agreement reached regarding Duncan Ferguson in the manner he did subsequent to the conclusion of the match."

[ image: Peter Johnson may soon sell Everton]
Peter Johnson may soon sell Everton
Smith claims he was only told of the deal being completed by the player in the foyer of the stadium.

He is believed to have had angry talks with Johnson after the game last Monday and again at a board meeting the following day.

It is believed that other directors persuaded Smith not to walk out there and then.

But the argument has been simmering ever since and has not been helped by claims from the Newcastle end that Smith knew more about the transfer than was being claimed.

The statement adds: "In light of the many comments, some highly speculative, currently being made regarding Duncan Ferguson's transfer to Newcastle, both chairman and manager felt the following statement should be issued on a joint basis."

Agreement to listen to offers

The club says that "having spent £20m on six new players" Johnson told Smith he would have "to sell players to return the squad to reasonable proportions".

In addition it says the pair agreed that any future offer for Ferguson would be given serious consideration after a "substantial" offer was turned down earlier in the season.

"The club then became aware of Newcastle's interest and events started to move rapidly last Monday evening," the statement added.

Johnson clearly feels the speed timing of the offer meant Smith was otherwise engaged on team affairs while the talks were taking place.

But the manager is clearly still angry that he could not have been involved even when discussions were taking place after the match between Johnson, Newcastle officials and their manager Ruud Gullit.

If there is still a difference of opinion it may be resolved by the chairman leaving before the manager.

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