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Football: LUA PAY DEMAND SHAKES ALBION.

Byline: GRAHAM HILL

WEST Bromwich Albion failed to sign Newcastle striker Lomana Lua Lua because he wanted a 50 PER CENT wage increase on what he was already earning.

Hawthorns officials are concerned that they will pick up a reputation as a 'skinflint' club if they keep missing out on established Premiership players.

But it is understood that when they moved for Lua Lua last week after agreeing a fee of around pounds 2 million, they were prepared to match his current salary AND give him an extra year on his contract.

Frustrated Albion officials were then stunned to put this to LuaLuaand his representatives only to be told that they wanted half as much again.

At this point, Albion pulled out of the deal, refusing to get caught up in a cash row and with Portsmouth waiting in the wings.

The Baggies board had their fingers burnt 18 months ago when they tried to bring in players during the 2003 Premiership transfer window but found they would be committing themselves to deals that would put the club in financial jeopardy.

And it is understood that they had the same feeling with Lua Lua.

But club officials believe they are offering what they describe as 'commercial contracts' to players. By that, they mean the sort of deals designed to bring in Premiership-standard footballers.

Albion insiders feel that the collapse of Lua Lua deal may suggest that the club are offering first division wages but it is believed that Baggies have made their wage structure more realistic.

One of the problems is that players need proof that Albion are capable of surviving in the top flight and the club is at the back of the queue because of being newly promoted.

But Albion still hope to complete the transfer of Jonathan Greening from Middlesbrough as well as John Carew of Valencia.

And Baggies have still not given up hope of trying to sign Kanu from Arsenal.

Albion are refusing to comment further after being stunned by Jason Koumas's transfer request which he made on Friday afternoon.

Fulham or Everton appear ready to make a bid for the Wales midfielder.

But there is a possibility that Koumas may be anxious to make sure that any new contract brings him into line with the club's top earners this season.

It is understood that Koumas has been earning around pounds 4,000 a week at Albion but was not happy with the club's new contract offer made last season.

CAPTION(S):

SALARY STUNNER: Lua Lua wanted a 50 per cent rise
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2004
Words:427
Previous Article:Football: 'I WANT NEW DEAL'.
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