Blackburn are cleared by FA

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers, the Premiership leaders, were cleared yesterday by the Football Association over an attempted spectator attack on the referee, Rodger Gifford, after the draw against Leeds a fortnight ago. The fan was arrested and charged by police under the 1991 Football Offences Act - and the club confiscated his season ticket.

It was that prompt action which helped convince the FA there was no need for further action, although it has reminded all clubs to be on their guard.

"The Football Association has now completed its inquiry into the incident involving a spectator and the referee at the conclusion of the above match," a statement said. "Having received reports from all interested parties, including the police, we have concluded that crowd control systems at Ewood Park are satisfactory.

"After also taking into account the club's immediate response to the incident and the previous good conduct of their supporters, no further action is to be taken. However, in recognition of the potential seriousness of the encroachment, all clubs have been reminded of the need to ensure the safety of players and officials, particularly at the conclusion of a match."

Manchester United have dropped Gordon Taylor from their defence team for the Eric Cantona FA trial. United officials are removing the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive from his place at the Frenchman's side for the disciplinary hearing today week.

The Old Trafford board is upset about comments made by Taylor following Cantona's latest alleged kung-fu attack on the ITN reporter, Terry Lloyd. Taylor said the incident on Guadeloupe could colour the judgement of the FA and police inquiries. Taylor was also quoted as saying it would be impossible for Cantona to stay in England - a statement he denies making.

United's action came as a surprise to Taylor, who was called into the case by Cantona personally the day after the Crystal Palace clash with a fan. Taylor was requested to represent Cantona in both the FA and police investigations.

However, the United director Maurice Watkins, the club's solicitor, revealed that Taylor would not now be at the hearing on the player's behalf. Taylor has also had an angry reaction from United fans, who have sent him faxes following his weekend comments. The PFA chief said: "What am I supposed to have said? I can't understand this reaction. However, if my absence helps Eric in any way I will be pleased at that outcome."

Bruce Grobbelaar's former business partner, Chris Vincent, has changed his mind about divulging fresh information on match-fixing allegations involving the Southampton goalkeeper.

"I have taken legal and professional advice, but it's my decision not to go ahead," Vincent said yesterday. "Any future dealings I have with the media shall not include any specific information relating to the allegations I have made to the police."

Grobbelaar was charged by the FA with misconduct after the Sun newspaper handed over a Vincent-inspired dossier of videos, interviews and photographs to Lancaster Gate last November. Grobbelaar has protested his innocence and the FA is not planning any further action until the police decide whether there is a case to answer.