Blackburn keep fines secret

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The Independent Online
GUY HODGSON

Blackburn Rovers ensured another morning of adverse headlines when they finally announced the punishment imposed on Graeme Le Saux and David Batty for their brawl during the Champions' League match against Spartak Moscow.

The Premiership champions yesterday issued a statement announcing that the two England internationals had been fined, but failed to reveal how much. Nor did they explain why the penalty was so long in coming, allowing the stigma to linger.

The statement, issued by Blackburn's secretary, John Howarth, read: "Both Graeme Le Saux and David Batty deeply regret their actions and have offered unreserved apologies to the club, the fans and football in general. The club, recognising the serious nature of the situation, have informed both players that the club cannot condone such behaviour and, having taken into account their respective actions, have fined both players accordingly."

Blackburn are believed to have imposed a maximum fine of two weeks' wages, a combined total in excess of pounds 20,000. There was one good piece of news for the pair, however, in that Uefa will not impose further punishment because the referee, Luigi Pairetto, did not mention the incident in his report.

Rovers could be expanding their squad. Niklas Gudmundsson, a Swedish international forward, was reported to be heading for the North-west with a view to joining Blackburn on loan from Halmstad until March.

Lennie Lawrence, who led Bradford City to a Coca-Cola Cup win over Nottingham Forest last month, was sacked yesterday. His assistant, Chris Kamara, takes over as manager for the rest of the season. The Second Division club's chairman, Geoffrey Richmond, said the decision required much soul searching. City are 11th after only one win in their last eight games.

Lawrence said: "I am happy to have left the club in a healthy financial position. I realise the results have not been up to scratch in recent weeks.''

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