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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Thornton in tug of clubs
Sunderland boss Peter Reid
Tranmere quick to condemn Sunderland and Thornton
Sunderland and Second Division Tranmere Rovers are on a head-on collision course over teenage midfielder Sean Thornton.

The Wearsiders have confirmed they are in negotiations over a compensation package as they attempt to lure the 18-year-old, who is out of contract in June, to the Stadium of Light.

But Tranmere have reacted furiously to the player's claims that he has already trained and agreed a five-year deal with the Black Cats.


This is a dreadful way for Sean to treat Tranmere
Tranmere boss Dave Watson

Rovers have accused Sunderland, who have been talking to Thornton for several months, of making an illegal approach and say they will report them to the Football Association and Football League.

"It seems Sunderland have tried to snatch our player by making an illegal approach," manager Dave Watson told the club's official website.

"Both Sean and Sunderland have shown a complete lack of respect for Tranmere Rovers and the FA and Football League rules, which is totally out of order.

"This is a dreadful way for Sean to treat Tranmere after the opportunity we have given him and the record-breaking contract we have been discussing with him."


If Sunderland want Sean Thornton they will have to pay compensation
Tranmere chairman Lorraine Rogers

Tranmere chairman Lorraine Rogers added: "If Sunderland want Sean Thornton, they will have to pay compensation. We have a very strong case and will let a tribunal decide if necessary.

"Sunderland have shown total disregard for the rules and we hope they will be forced to pay for their actions.

"Sean has let down every Tranmere Rovers supporter whilst they are paying his wages. He has been training with another club and agreeing terms without our knowledge or permission.

"The actions of Sean Thornton and Sunderland are in breach of FA and Football League regulations and we will be making a formal complaint."

Sunderland have been on the trail of the Irishman for some time after being alerted to his blossoming talent, which has brought him 11 first-team appearances for Tranmere this season.

Rovers are desperate to keep the player and have offered him a lucrative three-year contract, but the lure of the Premiership must prove attractive.

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