Byfield to leave Sunderland
SAFC say they will not be pursuing their interest in Darren Byfield, following a dispute with the player's agent.
Byfield came to Sunderland from Rotherham in February, in a swap deal which saw Michael Proctor go the opposite way.
Byfield's contract expired at the end of the 2003/04 season but the club offered him a two year extension in April. But the club said today that Byfield's agent - Jonathan Barnett of Stellar Promotions - had made a counter-offer, trying to get his client a better deal.
Despite Byfield's recent statement that he wanted to stay with Sunderland, the club were unimpressed by his agent's actions and withdrew the two-year offer.
A club spokesman told the Sunderland Echo today, "The club offered Darren a contract in April, which Darren's agent subsequently rejected by making a counter-offer to the club. As a consequence, Sunderland withdrew the contract offer both verbally and in writing - and we do not intend to offer Darren another contract."
Jonathan Barnett has now asked the players' union, the PFA, to intervene, and has questioned the legality of Sunderland's withdrawal of the offer - but the club insist they're within their rights to do so. Barnett said, "There was a contract offer on the table, but, during negotiations, it was withdrawn. I'm not sure it is legal to do that. It is a bit complicated and we're having the situation looked at.
"The matter's in the hands of our lawyers and the PFA at the moment."
"The club believes it is well within its legal rights to withdraw the contract offer as, once a counter-offer was made by Darren's agent, this cancelled out the offer made by Sunderland."
Byfield, for his part, expressed disappointment at the news. "I want to sign for Sunderland, but my agent's telling me there's no deal now.
"I haven't spoken to Mick McCarthy or the club directly since the end of last season because I leave all that stuff to my agent. I'm in limbo, really. If the contract's not on the table, we will have to look around, but I'm desperate to sign."
Byfield has made 17 appearances for Sunderland and scored 5 goals, netting on his debut against Watford at Vicarage Road when he scored only 4 minutes from time to salvage a draw.