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Monday, January 30, 2006
United call for action over Mikel deal

Manchester United have called on FIFA to ban Chelsea from transfer dealings and exclude them from competitions if it is proved they helped hijack the John Obi Mikel transfer, it has emerged.

In a nine-page letter to FIFA, United claim they had a legitimate deal with the Nigerian 18-year-old and that evidence suggests agents working for Chelsea caused Mikel to disappear days after signing a contract.

Within days, Mikel's agent claimed the teenager had signed under duress and the contract should be ruled null and void.

FIFA have yet to make any decision but Chelsea have said should that case be confirmed, they would have an interest in signing Mikel.

The letter has emerged from a special investigation to be aired on BBC Radio Five Live tonight and the report throws open to question the way in which talented young Africans are taken to Europe and signed up by clubs.

Signed by United chief executive David Gill and Morgan Andersen, the sporting director of Mikel's Norwegian club Lyn Oslo, the letter to FIFA says: 'If the involvement of Chelsea is established, then the complainants would seek the imposition of the sanction as set out in Article 23.2(a) of the FIFA Regulations namely a ban on Chelsea 'registering any new player, either nationally or internationally' for the duration of two registration periods.

'In addition, given the welfare issues that this case raises, including the disappearance of the player from Lyn, it is submitted by the complainants that this is a case which warrants the imposition of severe sanctions under Article 23.2(d) including exclusion from competitions.'

Mikel and three other Nigerian boys had been taken to Norway when they enrolled in the NTG sports school. Mikel had already caught the eye of several top clubs and had trained with Chelsea and at Manchester United's training ground with a Nigerian youth team before, on his 18th birthday, he signed a professional contract with Norwegian side Lyn Oslo.

Just one week later he signed for United but without any personal representative present. The letter to FIFA admits 'as he is entitled to do so, the player confirmed that he did not wish to utilise the services of a FIFA-licensed agent in the negotiations.'

According to the BBC investigation, the only people in the room when Mikel signed were Lyn's sporting director Andersen, United academy director Jimmy Ryan, a lawyer representing United and a lawyer from the firm which works for Lyn.

The deal was worth several million pounds to Lyn but there is a serious moral question in a player, days after his 18th birthday, signing a new contract without an agent or member of his family present.

As it turned out, within days Mikel's agent John Shittu travelled to Oslo and persuaded the player to leave and since then he has been on the move.

Mikel is currently with Nigeria playing in the African Nations Cup, and he told Five Live he wants to go to Chelsea and likes Jose Mourinho.

He said: 'I think Chelsea is going to be the best place for me. Yeah, of course I met him - he is a nice man, a brilliant coach and a brilliant man.'

Lyn's submission to FIFA also claims death threats were made to Mikel.

FIFA say they are waiting for notification that formal legal proceedings in Norway are closed before making a ruling.

The world governing body have written to Chelsea to ask for their response and it is understood the London club have replied that the allegations are completely without foundation.




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