Ferguson's appeal rejected by SFA

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Peter Johnson, the Everton chairman, yesterday spoke out against the Scottish Association's decision to reject Duncan Ferguson's appeal against a 12-match ban.

"It seems vindictive to me," he said. "The tribunal had a good opportunity to redress the situation. If you carry out a mugging in the street and are sentenced you serve it and that's the end of the matter.

"I fully expected the ban would not be activated or would take into account the eight games Duncan has already missed while in prison. You have to say he has suffered enough. Having visited Barlinnie, six weeks in there is quite a sentence."

The SFA's appeals tribunal yesterday rejected the striker's plea for leniency over the ban, which followed an on-field assault on Raith's John McStay in April 1994 that also resulted in his being jailed for three months.

The tribunal decided the suspension, one match of which Ferguson has already served, should run from yesterday.

Everton were hoping that Ferguson, to be released from Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison on 22 November, would be available to play on 25 November.

The decision to begin the ban yesterday was met with disappointment by Tony Higgins, the secretary of the Scottish Professional ers' Association. "We felt at the very least if the tribunal was to uphold the 12-match ban they would back-date it to his entry into Barlinnie Prison," Higgins said.

"Given what the player has been through, and that he has been through the court's system, it was felt the time was right for the tribunal to show some compassion. Effectively the player has been punished twice for the same crime and, given the severity of his prison sentence, consideration to that should have been the main priority."

n Middlesbrough's hopes of persuading Juninho not to miss eight games next spring look forlorn. The midfielder is set on playing for Brazil in next summer's Olympic Games, which means he will be absent next February and March while he plays in the qualifying competition in Argentina. "Playing in the Olympics is a dream for me and I want to enjoy the experience," Juninho said yesterday before Brazil's friendly against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

n Jimmy Case, the Brighton player-coach, has been detained in hospital for X-rays after sustaining a neck injury falling awkwardly in a reserve match yesterday. The 41-year-old former Liverpool player, the oldest outfield player in the league, had ignored specialists' advice to end his career this season.

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