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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 November, 2004, 11:34 GMT
Villa charged over 'Beattie bid'
Southampton striker James Beattie
Southampton's James Beattie was a target for Aston Villa
Aston Villa have been charged by the Premier League with an alleged illegal approach for Southampton and England striker James Beattie in the summer.

The Saints lodged an official complaint against Villa following public comments from their manager David O'Leary.

He revealed his belief that Beattie wanted to move to Villa after a 6m bid was rejected.

Villa deny the charge but could face a warning, fine or points deduction if they are found guilty.

A financial penalty is thought to be the most likely outcome and Liverpool were fined in a similar case involving Christian Ziege's move from Middlesbrough.

A Premier League spokesman said: "An independent commission has been appointed but no date has yet been set for a hearing."

The dispute began after Villa failed to sign Beattie during the close season.

The Premier League have set up a commission to look into this so we await their verdict with interest
Saints chairman Rupert Lowe

They beat Southampton 2-0 on the opening day of the season and after the game O'Leary was quoted on Villa's official website as saying: "All I can say is that I think there's a player there who definitely wants to join us.

"He has an opportunity to join a few people but I think he sees the way we play is good for strikers and that he will get a few goals."

Saints chairman Rupert Lowe told his club's website: "It is a Premier League matter and it is in their hands now so we will have to wait to see what they decide.

"We felt that Aston Villa made an illegal approach for James Beattie while he was still under contract to us and without our permission.

"The Premier League have set up a commission to look into this so we await their verdict with interest."

Premier League rules state that a club cannot approach a player directly with a view to a move without his club's permission unless he is in the final six months of a contract and that was not the case with Beattie.

The striker has been out of action since picking up an injury in last month's goalless draw with Manchester City.



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