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Webster tests FIFA ruling to join Wigan


HEARTS last night refused to comment on Andy Webster's impending move to Wigan Athletic, as the English club stepped up their efforts to lure him south.

The Barclays Premiership outfit have confirmed their intention to sign the Scotland defender, but the deal will need FIFA's ratification before it can be concluded.

Webster is hoping to exploit article 17 of FIFA's transfer regulations, which allows him to quit Hearts for another club outside Scotland, providing adequate notice of his intention has been received.

Having stated to the Edinburgh outfit his desire to leave at the end of last season, Webster now believes it is down to FIFA to determine what compensation Wigan must pay Hearts for him, even though the Scottish side have not agreed to the transfer.

But the Tynecastle club were reluctant to comment, with a spokesman saying: "As far as we're concerned until it's a deal, we wouldn't comment on anything."

Talks over a contract extension broke down at the back end of last season. The 25-year-old has not played for the club since April and failed to report for the pre-season tour of Austria, despite being warned he would never play for Hearts again.

Although Wigan were not party to Webster's decision to effectively hand in his notice, they are thought to have taken advice from FIFA on the matter and believe they will not have to pay anything like the £2 million Hearts are looking for.

"This is a new kind of Bosman if you like because Andy is hoping to be the first player to move before the end of his contract, using the new FIFA rule," said Wigan chief executive Brenda Spencer, who was in the Scottish capital to talk with Webster earlier this week.

Although the deal has been registered with the Football Association, Webster, who has 20 international caps, will not be allowed to play until FIFA have granted international clearance. Wigan manager Paul Jewell is hoping the situation will be resolved quickly.

"The delay has been a little bit frustrating for both parties," said Jewell. "But this is a move I really want to see completed. Andy is a player I think can make a big difference to the team, he has all the qualities I like in my defenders and it's no wonder there have been other clubs looking at him."

Taken from the Scotsman

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