Gazza gets warning from club

BEIJING: B-league football club Gansu Tianma have refused to renegotiate a deal with former England international Paul Gascoigne, demanding that the troubled star first return to China before any discussions on his contract can be held. 

“Since he asked for leave before the SARS outbreak he has not come back, he should have come back long ago,” Chen Rong, a club assistant said. 

The club have virtually given up hope that he will return and are contemplating arbitration to seek compensation from the former Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio, Rangers and Everton star. 

According to Chen, in recent days Gascoigne's manager said the 36-year-old footballer was ready to return on condition that his original contract be respected and that “Gazza” be allowed to share in marketing revenues that the club earned from publicising his name. 

“Tianma said that Gascoigne must first return to Lanzhou (city) and then we could discuss issues surrounding his contract,” Chen said. 

Gascoigne has made several stellar performances since joining Tianma in January and created a huge following in Lanzhou and around China's B-league cities. 

After asking leave of the team in March, Gascoigne reportedly entered a rehabilitation centre in south-western Arizona in the US to seek help for a recurring alcohol problem. 

Meanwhile, the team have sought sponsorship and advertising deals in Europe using the player once considered the world's best footballer as a focal point. 

Tianma manager Zhang Tongbo told Xinhua news agency that the club still hoped that Gazza could return in time for the July 5 restart of the season which has been delayed by the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. 

Tianma are seeking to avoid regulation to a lower league. 

“If he really decides to violate his contract, then the club will go through the normal channels, including official communications between the China FA and the English FA all the way up to FIFA,” Zhang said. – AFP  

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