Football: O'Neill seeks personal hearing on misconduct charge

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The Independent Online
Martin O'Neill is to seek a personal hearing to answer a Football Association charge of misconduct.

The Leicester City manager is in the dock after an alleged confrontation in the tunnel with referee Jeff Winter after his side's recent Premiership game at home to Everton. Everton's last-minute penalty award incensed O'Neill, especially as it gave the visitors their first away win in the league for 12 months.

"I would hope that the FA want to hear my view about what happened," O'Neill said.

West Ham midfielder Steve Lomas is also up on a misconduct charge after allegedly grabbing referee Gerald Ashby during the match with Blackburn at Ewood Park on 20 December, while Manchester City striker Paul Dickov faces a similar charge over alleged remarks made to Andy D'Ursoe following the game against Birmingham on 13 December.

Manchester United are refusing to soften their position in the row with fans over standing at Old Trafford. United claim that fans who stand are causing safety problems and that Trafford Council will close down parts of the ground if the problem continues, while fans have sought a meeting with the club to discuss the matter.

The club has appealed to fans for their co-operation in their latest newsletter, but they have already banned several supporters for what they term "persistent standing."

"We've taken a very relaxed attitude as far as we can, but drastic measures are now called for," the club secretary, Ken Merrett, said yesterday.

Christian Gross' fitness coach, Fritz Schmid, has gone home to Switzerland while the Department of Education and Employment reconsiders his work permit application. Schmid could be back in a fortnight if Tottenham are successful in their appeal.

Gross, who said he had had talks with Les Ferdinand over the striker's claims that he had been forced to train while unfit, committed himself to Tottenham yesterday, dispelling doubts that the Schmid problem may lead him to return to Switzerland. "When I say yes to a club, I mean it 100 per cent," he said. "I am not a man who says after a few weeks, `that's it'. I am a fighter."

Of the Ferdinand affair, Gross said: "The best way to handle an injury is to train the day afterwards and not to wait. You have to start as soon as you can."

Brighton's former home, the Goldstone Ground, has changed hands for more than three times the amount the club sold it for two years ago.

The Seagulls sold their home of 95 years to Chartwell Land for pounds 7.4m to clear debts, and Abbey Life Assurance have now paid Chartwell pounds 24m for what will soon be a retail park.

Lord Bassam, leader of Brighton and Hove Council, said he was "outraged" at the news because none of the money would find its way back to the struggling Third Division club.

"Albion needs a serious injection of cash to solve its problems," he said. "It offends me that the club will not benefit from this."

- John Curtis

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