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By ESPN Staff
Aug 10, 2006

Wigan need FIFA nod to complete Webster deal

Wigan have confirmed their intention to sign Scotland defender Andy Webster from Hearts - 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 play Hearts for him, even though the Scottish side have not agreed to the transfer.

Webster's Tynecastle future has been in doubt ever since talks over a contract extension broke down at the back end of last season.

The 26-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 £2million Hearts are looking for.

The former Arbroath player's future is now in the hands of the world governing body, triggering what Latics chief executive Brenda Spencer believes will be a test case.

'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 Spencer, who was in the Scottish capital to talk with Webster yesterday.

'We have had to deal extensively with legal departments and consultants who are experts in European player issues.

'But hopefully, the matter will be concluded very soon. It has been a very complicated process but this will be a unique transfer.'

Although the deal has been registered with the Football Association, Webster will not be allowed to play until FIFA have granted international clearance.

The Latics are hoping the situation will be resolved quickly.

And, while there appears little chance of Webster - who has 20 international caps to his name - being involved in the Premiership opener against at Newcastle on August 19, manager Paul Jewell believes his latest acquisition will be a major influence of the Wigan squad.

'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.

'He is a defender who loves to defend, he is fantastic in the air, fearless in the tackle and reads the game very well.

'He gives 100% every time he puts on the shirt, exactly as I demand from all my players. He is the right age and has the hunger and attitude to fit in at Wigan.'