Football: Arsenal board concerned over disciplinary record

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The Independent Online
ALTHOUGH ARSENAL have decided to appeal against Fredrik Ljungberg's sending-off in the north London derby at Tottenham last Sunday, the club's chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, yesterday voiced his concerns over the club's disciplinary record.

The club will pursue the right to a hearing by a disciplinary committee tribunal if, as expected, the Football Association rejects Ljungberg's appeal and stands by referee David Elleray's report that the Swedish midfielder was shown a red card for violent conduct.

Ljungberg was one of two Arsenal players dismissed in the fiery White Hart Lane derby, although there is no dispute by the Gunners over Martin Keown's sending off for a second yellow card.

But the Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has examined video evidence of the incident in which Ljungberg reacted to a two-footed tackle by Tottenham's Justin Edinburgh. The Frenchman believes that Ljungberg's retaliation was only "minor" and criticised the referee after the match, saying: "If he killed a game for something like that, it is crazy."

Arsenal have collected 26 red cards since Wenger took over as manager in September 1996 and yesterday Hill-Wood said: "There is no magic wand that can be waved to stop people acting stupidly. Of course we are concerned.

"I genuinely don't think we are a dirty team but there is no doubt that we are undisciplined. We realise that this damages the club in more ways than one. I don't like it any more than any of our fans."

If Ljungberg's appeal fails he will receive an automatic three-match ban for his first-ever sending off.

Nwankwo Kanu has agreed a new long-term contract with Arsenal which will put him among Highbury's top-earners, but he denied that it will break the club's pay structure.

The Nigerian, who joined from Internazionale last January, said in a statement: "I am delighted to have a new deal with Arsenal. There has been much speculation regarding my salary breaking the club's wage structure but this is untrue. My new contract is consistent with Arsenal's current wage policy."

Spartak Moscow and Uefa, the game's European ruling body, have confirmed to Leeds United that their Uefa Cup third round, first leg tie will be played in Moscow. There were rumours that the match would be switched to Vladikavkaz in southern Russia because the weather would be warmer.

Joe Parkinson has been forced to retire after a long battle against a knee injury.

The Everton midfielder, 28, was signed for the Merseysiders by their former manager, Mike Walker, from Bournemouth and was part of the side which beat Manchester United in the 1995 FA Cup final. "It's come to a time where I have to call it a day," he said. "My knee isn't strong enough and I'm in too much pain."

Another player announcing his retirement, though only from the international stage, was the Croatia captain, Zvonimir Boban. This Saturday's friendly against France will be his last game for his country.

The FA has rescheduled the abandoned Wycombe v Oxford City FA Cup first- round replay for Tuesday, 16 November.

A meeting between club officials was held yesterday afternoon with lots being drawn to decide which club had home advantage - and Oxford came out of the bag first.

It means the Ryman League side will play the match at Oxford United's Manor Ground, having already agreed not to stage it at their Court Place Farm stadium. Wycombe's Adams Park had to be evacuated on Tuesday night with the score at 1-1 after extra-time when a small fire broke out beneath the main stand.

The West Bromwich chairman, Tony Hale, has confirmed he will fly out to Italy in the near future to push through the club's proposed link-up with Juventus. Negotiations are under way between Albion and the Turin club but Hale says he wants face-to-face talks before Christmas.

The Wales caretaker-manager, Mark Hughes, was having further contract discussions with the Football Association of Wales yesterday about making the job permanent.

The Southampton captain, Jason Dodd, has been ruled out of action for the next three weeks after an operation on a long-standing knee injury.

The West Bromwich defender Paul Mardon faces a year out after a second operation on his injured knee. Nottingham Forest have signed Derby's Danish striker Mikkel Beck on a two-month loan deal.