Football: Arsenal act on Wright in camera

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IAN WRIGHT has denied punching Tottenham's David Howells during the north London derby and Arsenal say they accept his word. However, the Gunners' manager, George Graham, has criticised his volatile striker for raising his arms and is ready to take disciplinary action but only, it seems, if the Football Association decide not to get involved.

Wright was captured by television cameras at White Hart Lane on Saturday reacting badly to a tackle by Howells, and the FA were scrutinising the film yesterday before deciding whether to charge the player with 'misconduct'.

Meanwhile, manager and player spent time discussing Wright's recurring problems, which threaten to have serious repercussions for his England career. Graham is preaching tolerance and understanding, claiming Wright has the same temperamental tendencies as Paul Gascoigne and they will take time to control.

'Ian states categorically that he did not punch the player,' Graham said, 'but even lifting an arm is a problem in my opinion. It's wrong and at Arsenal we do not condone that sort of behaviour. If we are to take disciplinary action it will be done privately and not in public.'

Arsenal have come down hard on errant players in the past but can not be blamed for a reluctance to see Wright punished twice. The FA are under pressure to bring a player with so high a profile to heel, particularly as there have been other indiscretions this season.

Graham is anxious to see his pounds 2.5m man avoid controversy but not forfeit his hunger and competitiveness. Citing Gazza's example Graham said: 'They both have fiery tempers but under Terry Venables Paul Gascoigne worked hard on his behaviour and has matured into the player we know today.

'I'm working on the same lines with Ian, we have both been working hard on it but it does not happen overnight. Like Gascoigne, Ian has a great talent and we don't want to lose these players from the game through this type of failing. If we succeed it will be for the good of England as well as Arsenal.'

Dave Beasant has been denied the chance of a loan move to Portsmouth by the Football League. The First Division club already have Steve Agnew on loan from Blackburn and have now taken Mark Stimson from Newcastle, the maximum 'loanees' they are allowed.

However, the Pompey manager, Jim Smith, has agreed a pounds 300,000 fee with Blackburn for Agnew. If the move goes through Beasant will be free to move to Fratton Park, where he would be cover for Alan Knight over the holiday period.

Queen's Park Rangers plan to tighten security at Loftus Road following a brawl after Saturday's game which threatened the safety of the Crystal Palace manager, Steve Coppell, and his match-winner Eddie McGoldrick, who took refuge in the player's lounge before police were called.

Bob Houghton, who guided the Swedish club Malmo to the 1979 European Cup final against Nottingham Forest before taking charge at Bristol City, has resigned as the assistant manager of Southend United.

St Johnstone have sacked Alex Totten, the manager credited with bringing them respectable Premier Division status. Totten also led the Perth club to the First Division championship and to semi-final appearances in the Scottish Cup (twice) and the Skol Cup. John McClelland, the former Leeds defender, has taken temporary charge.

St Mirren, of the Scottish First Division, have dismissed their club captain, Chic Charnley, for 'serious misconduct'. He was recently banned for five games by the Scottish Football Association because of his poor disciplinary record.

Wimbledon have rejected a pounds 1.5m offer from Blackburn Rovers for Robbie Earle, the former Port Vale midfield player who was included in the England B squad last season. Wimbledon are holding out for pounds 2m-plus for Earle, particularly with Vale due 30 per cent of any profit on the pounds 775,000 for which they sold him 18 months ago.

Jack Walker's second club, page 26