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JUDGING by recent events, Dwight Yorke seems to play as good a game off the field as he does on it.


Watching Yorke go on the attack over his future with Sydney FC on Thursday was like watching a conductor controlling his orchestra. The only thing missing was the baton.

There was no sign of the Sydney and Trinidad and Tobago captain missing a beat during the suspiciously orchestrated event outside Fox Sports studios as he ensured he was going to come out of this crazy mess smelling like roses.

How all major television crews ended up waiting outside the studios in Pyrmont for Yorke to turn up, when there was no official notification he would be there, would be a story in itself.

There was not even a hint of surprise on Yorke's face when he was confronted by a swarm of reporters and cameramen before entering the studios for an interview that aired later that night.

Although he did not speak, he was more than accommodating when he eventually emerged two and a half hours later.

And as he hopped into his black Range Rover he obligingly wound down the window, allowing the cameras to capture his smiling image as he drove off.

Yorke's polish in handling the situation should come as no surprise, given the situation in which he finds himself is part and parcel of world football when it comes to money, transfers and contract negotiations.

As a veteran of one of the most competitive competitions in the world - the English Premier League - Yorke has been through this crash-and-burn situation many times.

He and his advisers know how to play the game.

There is nothing wrong or illegal with that. As a professional player who earns his living on the field, Yorke is entitled to do the absolute best for himself, especially at this stage of his career.

Now closer to 40 than 30, he has maybe one or two seasons left in him, and he has every right to ensure he makes the most of what limited time he has left as a player to shore up his financial future.

It's hardly surprising in this climate of intrigue and speculation that many theories and rumours abound regarding his future and it is difficult to sort the fact from the fiction.

One theory is that he has been made a huge offer by a club from the Middle East, Japan or England, and wants out of Sydney.

But Yorke is adamant he does not want to leave Sydney.

He looked very sincere when he said on Thursday: "I want to stand by my contractual agreement with Sydney FC with whom I signed a two-year deal. My immediate plans are to go back to the United Kingdom and prepare for the World Cup in Germany before coming back to Australia."

But does Sydney FC want to keep him? Or, more to the point, can it afford to keep him?

The club is adamant that it does not want Yorke to go anywhere, and the official line, according to chairman Walter Bugno, is that the drama is the result of a misunderstanding.

"Dwight has a two-year contract and we want him to fulfil it without any question at all," Bugno said.

"This is nothing but a misunderstanding caused by the fact we want to facilitate Dwight's World Cup ambitions.

"His agent was told that if Dwight got an offer from an overseas club which would help him maintain his fitness leading up to Germany, then great. If that offer was for one, two or how ever long, and if that's what he wanted, then we would not stand in his way.

"Otherwise, we expect Dwight back in Sydney after his World Cup commitments."

However, Yorke said a "high-ranking Sydney FC official" told his agent he was "free to go".

Whether Yorke has interpreted that alleged comment as Sydney FC wanting to get rid of him, or whether he is using it to shore up his position, is unclear.

If you listen to some people, Sydney FC is keen to offload the expensive striker because it can no longer afford his wages.

There has been constant speculation about what he is earning from the club. It has been widely reported he is on $900,000 but The Weekend Australian understands it is much closer to $1.5 million.

Between Yorke and coach Pierre Littbarksi, whose future is also under a cloud, the club is paying $2.2 million. With Sydney FC expected to report a loss of between $2.5m and $3.5m, the club needs to slash spending for there seems little doubt that it is not big enough to carry both Yorke and Littbarski.

If anything, Littbarski's future could be more of an issue.

The Weekend Australian believes Bugno and prominent owner and award-winning actor Anthony LaPaglia want Littbarski to stay. However, other investors are just as keen to see the back of the former World Cup star.

Certainly, Yorke, who has a large following of fans, has much more bargaining power than the coach.

Look through the Sydney FC unofficial internet forum and you will see what the fans think of him.

The backlash from the fans will be immeasurable if the man they have idolised all season is forced out of Sydney.

Typical of the reaction the club could expect is the one from a supporter who rang The Weekend Australian yesterday. He declared: "There is no way I'm going to pay $30 to watch Sydney play next season if Dwight Yorke isn't there."

The ball is now in Sydney's court and there is no doubt it will have to tread carefully to ensure this does not blow up in its face.

Unfortunately, the club seriously risks being cast as the villain in this mess.

Whatever happens, it is a disappointing postscript coming less than a week after the club clinched the inaugural A-League championship with a 1-0 win in the grand final against Central Coast Mariners in front of almost 42,000 fans at Aussie Stadium.