Sir Alex Ferguson reneged on a “concrete” agreement to become the Tottenham manager two years before he began his illustrious 27-year spell in charge of Manchester United, according to former Spurs chairman Irving Scholar.
Keith Burkinshaw left his managerial position at White Hart Lane in 1984 after a disagreement with the board to outcry from the Spurs faithful, despite leading the club to the UEFA Cup and two FA Cup victories in the previous three campaigns.
Scholar has admitted he believed he knew the name of Burkinshaw’s replacement having shaken hands on a deal to bring in Ferguson, only for the Scot to go back on the agreement.
Ferguson had led Aberdeen to a league title in 1980 along with three successive Scottish Cup victories from 1982 to 1984 and success in the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup final against Real Madrid and was Scholar’s main target.
“The truth was that I had been talking to and negotiating with Alex Ferguson about a deal,” Scholar revealed to The Sun. “He and I had had very long and detailed discussions.
“I told him that I was a very old-fashioned type of chap and that the most important thing was that once you agree something, once you shake someone’s hand, it’s concrete.
“Once you do that, then you do not – under any circumstances whatsoever – you do not go back on it. It’s over. I told him that, when I first met him. So we had this big thing about the handshake.”
However, Ferguson’s arrival in charge at Tottenham never materialised despite Scholar being convinced the Scotsman had achieved his full potential at Pittodrie.
“We went on and on and on, discussions, negotiations, down to the minutiae of the contract,” added Scholar, who took control of Spurs in 1982.
“Everything was agreed. So I said ‘Can we meet?’, he agreed and I said I’d like him to meet someone else on the board, Paul Bobroff. We arranged to meet in Paris on a Sunday morning, just by the airport.
“The idea was this was the moment, the seminal moment of the handshake. We’d built up to this for weeks. So we met. I said, ‘Are you ready?’. He replied, ‘I’m ready’.
“I said, ‘Are you sure you’re ready?’. He said, ‘I’m sure’. So we had this seminal moment of the handshake. As you know, unfortunately, he didn’t keep to it.
“He never told me why. I had my own theories but it doesn’t matter anymore. It was a disappointment. He stayed at Aberdeen for another two years.”
Ferguson won a further league title and a Cup and League Cup double during his final two years in charge of Aberdeen before beginning his tenure in charge of Manchester United in 1986.