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Jun 11, 2011

Jones dispute ramped up by Rovers

Blackburn Rovers are conducting an internal investigation into how Manchester United became aware of Phil Jones' £16 million so-called 'get-out clause' to leave the club.

• Jones valued by Rovers at £25 million • Jones on brink of United move
• On The Move - Transfer Blog

ESPNsoccernet have been told by Rovers sources of a belief that Manchester United must have had sight of the contract, or indeed been told of the contract, to be so specific about what is contained it in the contract.

Rovers' advisers believe the clause is open to interpretation and the club's Indian owners do not wish to sell the player, and will not sell at the price being offered.

Venky's accept that Jones was entitled to inform the club that he wished to talk to Manchester United, or any club, who are prepared to evoke the clause, but Blackburn's lawyers dispute that the clause means that legally the club are obliged to sell their player for the set price.

Blackburn are contesting whether the clause that triggers the ability for Jones to talk to a club that offers £16 million also means that they are must accept the fee, or that they are entitled to ask for more money if other clubs are prepared to pay more. Blackburn want more for Jones and if United don't offer more, will refuse to sell.

As Jones has rejected overtures from Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs, Blackburn know they will struggle to provoke an auction as rival bidders believe they are wasting their time on a players whose heart is set on a move to Old Trafford.

That has left United and Rovers in a stand-off position, which insiders inform ESPNsoccernet could be resolved on Monday with some kind of compromise offer from Manchester United.

If United continue to refuse to up their price then the issue might even result in Blackburn asking the Premier League how private and confidential contractual details were obtained by Manchester United. ESPNsoccernet believes that if United increased their offer to £20 million with some bolt-on additions then Blackburn will relinquish their legal arguments and avoid a Premier League complaint.

The Jones transfer has become one of the most messy deals of this summer as Blackburn contest the validity of get-out clauses in players' contracts.

It will also mean that the football authorities will need to look closely at the strength of get-out clauses and how confidential they can remain, or whether they have outlasted their usefulness, if they can produce disputes such as that has mushroomed between United and Blackburn.

ESPNsoccernet broke the story on Thursday that the Jones move to Manchester United was halted over over a dispute about the players' valuation.

Yet, for 24 hours the media continued to report that the deal was going through without any hitch as both clubs kept the dispute firmly under wraps. The player has already passed his medical and agreed personal terms with United, which normally happens after the clubs have agreed a fee. Premier League rules state that a player can only talk to a club and go through with the transfer procedures once a fee is agreed.

Manchester United would argue the fee was already set, but Blackburn are vehemently contesting that interpretation's validity.

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