ALBION chairman Dick Knight has hit back at Aston Villa manager John Gregory over the Gareth Barry affair.

Former Seagulls midfielder Gregory launched a scathing attack on Knight, who is still seething at Villa's refusal to cough up cash they owe for Barry.

The Premiership giants are witholding the first £200,000 installment, due to Albion six weeks ago.

They want transfer tribunal chairman Professor Sir John Wood to explain why they must pay possibly over £1 million for the teenage star, depending on first team and England appearances.

Gregory stormed "Dick Knight wouldn't recognise Gareth Barry if he stood on Brighton beach in an Albion shirt with a ball tucked under his arm and a seagull on his head.

"We are being asked to pick up the bill for a football club so badly run that it nearly went to the wall.

"The fact is if the tribunal had been held in the summer, as it should have been, then Brighton would not have got more than £50,000 for Gareth Barry. It kept being delayed.

"But since then he has gone on to play for the Villa first team and has made progress at England level and all that has had a massive influence on the tribunal decision.

"It shouldn't have had any influence at all. Compensation is for the costs of developing players.

"In the five or six years that Gareth Barry was at Brighton the furthest he got was being a substitute for the youth team. I find it hard to believe that cost £800,000 or so!

"There is only one club being exploited here - and it is not Brighton and Hove Albion."

Now Knight has spiced up the war of words. "John Gregory's cheeky chappie quips speak volumes for themselves," said the Albion supremo.

"He by his own admission previously told the national press that Aston Villa had stolen Gareth Barry from Brighton.

"The timing of the tribunal was down to the tribunal organisers, not us, so that is irrelevant. Villa went to it fully understanding their decision was binding, so they are crying wolf after the event.

"Our whole argument was based on the achievements of Gareth Barry in his career, not a lump sum up front."

Knight is confident Albion will get the £200,000 this week, although it may not come directly from Villa. The Premier League could pay up from their own reserves, then claw the money back from Villa's portion of the Sky TV deal.

Knight is also demanding concrete proof that Villa will abide by the rest of the tribunal's decision.

"I want a written undertaking that we will receive the other amounts of money as they become due," he added.

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