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Jan 8, 2009

Defoe's £15m Tottenham transfer in doubt?

Jermain Defoe's return to Tottenham Hotspur has yet to be finalised and reports suggest that not only has a fee yet to agreed with Portsmouth but the deal could also come under close scrutiny for a possible breach of transfer rules.

The delay in Defoe's move will cause confusion amongst fans who witnessed the player's unveiling at White Hart Lane ahead of Tuesday's 4-1 win over Burnley in their Carling Cup semi-final first leg tie.

Fans greeted Defoe warmly after it seemed the striker had completed a £15 million move from Fratton Park after just 12 months on the south coast.

However, it is understood that a final deal is yet to be agreed between the two clubs and paperwork remaining unsigned; as such Defoe's registration remains with Portsmouth.

Added to that, Premier League rule L19 states: "A Club which transfers or cancels the registration of a Player may not apply to register that Player within a year except with the prior written consent of the Board."

It is less than a year since Defoe was loaned to Portsmouth and technically Tottenham still held his registration until May when the transfer was made permanent. The only player ever to be permitted such a move was Chris Powell when he returned to Charlton, though he was without a club.

And Tottenham have previous experience of the rule when they initial attempted to sign Leeds goalkeeper Paul Robinson. That fell through when the Premier League blocked Spurs from loaning him back to the Elland Road side immediately.

Further muddying the waters are reports suggesting Defoe's mother could have played a part in negotiating his return to White Hart Lane, a fact which would breach transfer regulations as she is not registered to do so.

Last year Defoe split acrimoniously with his former agent Sky Andrew, who is now suing the player for breach of contract. Andrew alleges Defoe was illegally represented by an unregistered agent in his £7 million January 2008 move to Portsmouth.

As a result of the continuing case Defoe was unable to appoint new representation and was therefore left to negotiate the move to Spurs himself. The Guardian reports that Andrew could make a further claim against Defoe if his mother, Sandra St Helen, influenced the transfer.

In another twist it has been reported that the deal initially stalled Defoe when Defoe demanded Portsmouth pay him a £700,000 loyalty bonus due to him because he did not seek a move away.

Despite the uncertainty Defoe has begun training with Spurs, but at present would be ineligible to play for Harry Redknapp's side.

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