FA inquiry into St Andrew's clashes

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The Independent Online
Football

CATHERINE RILEY

The war of words between Birmingham City and Millwall continued yesterday, with both insisting their fans were not reponsible for the crowd disturbances which marred their First Division match at St Andrew's.

The Association has confirmed it is to hold an official inquiry into Saturday's clashes - both inside and outside the ground - between fans and police, who insisted Birmingham supporters had instigated the trouble.

Superintendent Roger Conway of West Midlands Police said Birmingham fans seated above Millwall supporters "were spitting and throwing coins and even golf balls. As the game came to an end, the missiles became heavier and bits of wood were being hurled down. The Millwall fans, to their credit, did not retaliate, but at the end of the game, their patience ran out and a few began ripping up plastic seating which they threw up towards the Birmingham fans."

Birmingham, however, are adamant their fans were guilty of nothing more than over- exuberence, and rejected allegations that a Millwall substitute, Dave Savage, was punched by a City fan while warming up.

Chelsea's behind the scenes power struggle intensified yesterday as Matthew Harding, the Stamford Bridge landlord, resigned as a director of Chelsea Village, the company run by Ken Bates which owns the club.

His resignation is believed to have been brought about by an increasingly difficult relationship with Bates, Chelsea's chairman, although Harding may be about to launch a bid for Bates' controlling interest in Chelsea Village, which would give him total ownership of Bridge affairs.

Middlesbrough are to hold talks with the English and Brazilian FAs over the club versus country conflict that is brewing over the release of Juninho. Brazil are insisting he must be made available for their Under-23 squad, which will play in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Argentina next spring.

Keith Lamb, the Middlesbrough chief executive, said the club would check the rules and then hold talks with both associations in a bid to reach a compromise.

The Manchester United midfielder, Roy Keane, may be absent until Christmas as he is due to have a hernia operation today, which means he will miss the Republic of Ireland's vital European Championship qualifier with Portugal in Lisbon tomorrow week.

Graham Fenton, who trained with Blackburn yesterday, is poised to complete his pounds 1.5m move from Aston Villa. Rovers wanted to check Fenton's groin injury, which he has had throughout his career, and they are now happy to let the transfer proceed.

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