'Find me the biggest nutter and I will change him' says Cardiff City chairman

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The Independent Online

The millionaire owner of Cardiff City football club offered to give jobs to convicted soccer hooligans yesterday, the day after admitting he employs one as his minder.

The controversial comments by Sam Hammam came after police arrested nine Cardiff City supporters suspected of hooliganism and violence at recent matches. One of the men questioned is a former Cardiff City player and ex-Welsh under 21 international.

Mr Hammam caused outrage on Thursday when he said he knew his bodyguard, Neil MacNamara, 37, had recently completed a 12-month ban from every football ground in the country for threatening and abusive behaviour at a game in 2000. He described the shaven-headed MacNamara as "the perfect poacher turned game keeper".

Mr Hammam went further yesterday and offered to clean up the hooliganism problem at Cardiff City by declaring: "Find me the biggest nutter and I will change him." He said he would put some of Cardiff's most feared hooligans in positions of responsibility at the club. "Bring me some of these nutters and I will show you what can be done."

He added: "It is like a man with two sons. One is clever, polite and successful while the other is a criminal, a drug user and a bad man. "He must love the bad son ten times as much as the good son."

Mr Hammam has continued to back MacNamara, even though the security firm used by Cardiff City fired him on Thursday night after learning of his previous conviction.

MacNamara said yesterday he was a changed man since his conviction. "I don't deny being involved in certain minor incidents in the past but those times are very much in the past."

South Wales police carried out raids against suspected troublemakers at the Cardiff club and arrested nine men aged between 15 and 42.

Among those arrested was Dai Thomas, 26, a striker who joined Cardiff City four seasons ago. He played 36 times but was suspended after being filmed mixing with hooligans at the Euro 2000 championships in Brussels. He never played for Cardiff again but still mixes with their supporters.