Football: Graham fumes over Kewell ban

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The Independent Online
THE Leeds United manager, George Graham, yesterday hit at the Australian football association for being "absolutely disgraceful" in banning Harry Kewell from playing in Monday's Premiership fixture at West Ham.

Graham pulled his young striker out of the Australian Olympic squad's current three-game friendly series with Brazil after he aggravated a groin injury in the 5-0 win over Derby two weeks ago. The Elland Road manager thought that would be the end of the matter - but now Soccer Australia has asked Fifa, world football's governing body, to invoke its five-day rule to prevent the 19-year-old from lining up against the Hammers.

Graham said: "This is an old problem raising its head again. Harry had been carrying a groin injury for some weeks which flared up against Derby. We took him off as a precaution and we thought he might be OK again, with treatment, for the trip to West Ham.

"The Australian FA then got in touch with Fifa and they invoked a rule saying that Harry cannot play the next League match for us, which I think is absolutely disgraceful. The player is contracted to us, we are paying him financially. It's not the associations paying the players' wages, it's the football clubs. It's time the associations and the clubs had a better relationship and understanding.

"The boy wants to play for Leeds, but they are stopping him from working. They are preventing a player from doing a job of work."

If AFC Bournemouth win the Auto Windscreens Shield when they play Grimsby Town at Wembley on 19 April, they want to play in Europe next season. The Second Division club are to ask the Football Association if they can compete in the InterToto Cup. "If San Marino can play in the World Cup, and Barry Town in the Uefa Cup, I don't see why Bournemouth can't play in the InterToto," their chairman, Trevor Watkins, said yesterday.

The Hull City chairman, David Lloyd, has threatened to end his funding of the struggling Third Division club but there was better news for Burnley. The Turf Moor club's directors have agreed to a pounds 12m takeover offer from Peter Shackleton, a businessman and life-long Burnley fan who is supported by five Swiss bankers.

Wolverhampton Wanderers have added David Connolly to their stock of strikers. They registered the 20-year-old Republic of Ireland international just prior to Thursday's transfer deadline.

The former Watford forward, who has initially been signed on loan from the Dutch club, Feyenoord, has agreed a four-year contract with the First Division side. A fee of pounds 400,000 has been agreed. "When a club like Wolves come in for you, you don't hang around," Connolly said. He should be eligible for the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal a week tomorrow.

Fifa's general secretary, Sepp Blatter, yesterday confirmed that he will be a candidate to replace Joao Havelange as president. The only other candidate for the post is Lennart Johansson, the president of Uefa, European football's ruling body. The election will be in Paris on 8 June.