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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 12:41 GMT
Boksic bound with red tape
Middlesbrough striker Alen Boksic
Spurs hopes of landing Boksic could be floored

Tottenham's hopes of solving their striker shortage could be strangled by red tape.

Spurs have been linked with Middlesbrough striker Alen Boksic, who is out of the picture at The Riverside.

Tottenham are believed to be keen to exploit the loophole which allows clubs to sign players outside the transfer window, provided they are free agents.

A player can sign for a club outside the transfer window but not if he makes himself deliberately unemployed

Fifa spokesman

Boksic has been pushed further out of the first team frame at the Riverside by the arrival of Michael Ricketts and Malcolm Christie.

The Croatian is in talks with Boro to pay up his contract, which still has another five months to run.

But a recently-introduced Fifa regulation means that Boksic would not be a free agent.

Fifa has ruled that a player cannot be classed as a free agent if he deliberately makes himself unemployed.

The rule was formulated to prevent players manufacturing moves for themselves outside the transfer windows.

A Fifa spokesman said: "A player can sign for a club outside the transfer window if he is considered unemployed.

The law is designed so that somebody cannot be prevented from earning a living

Sports lawyer Tim Bailey

"But that may not happen if he makes himself deliberately unemployed."

Specialist sport lawyer Tim Bailey feels it is only a matter of time before the Fifa regulation is tested in a court of law.

Bailey, a lawyer with Independent Sports Management, said: "The law is designed so that somebody cannot be prevented from earning a living.

"It comes from the Bosman ruling and the law of the land supercedes any football regulations, and the law says you cannot restrict anyone's freedom of movement.

"In certain circumstances it may be possible for a player to unilaterally end his contract, claiming 'just sports cause'" said Bailey.

Such circumstances might be if a player has played in fewer than 10% of games and he feels his future prospects and livelihood could be affected

Spurs striker Robbie Keane
Keane is out injured for Spurs

Said Bailey: "Such a claim would find its way to Fifa's Resolution Chamber."

Spurs enquired about Boksic's availability last Friday after missing out on Bolton striker Ricketts.

Middlesbrough chief executive Keith Lamb confirmed Spurs' late bid.

"Spurs asked if we would be interested in transferring Boksic," said Lamb.

"I replied it would not be possible bearing in mind the short time remaining before the deadline closed, while Boksic was in Croatia and he was injured."

Boksic hinted at retiring, instigating his contract talks with Boro, who maintain the striker has not quit the Riverside and is still registered with the club.

But Hoddle was hoping to persuade the Croatian, who has been Boro's top scorer for the past two seasons, to reconsider.

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See also:

04 Feb 03 | Middlesbrough
13 Feb 03 | Middlesbrough
13 Feb 03 | Middlesbrough
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