Football: Bradford must do without Waddle

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The Independent Online
Chris Waddle had hoped to spend today enjoying a return to the Premiership with Nottingham Forest, writes Rupert Metcalf. Instead, Bradford City's newly appointed captain lies on his sick bed, unable to help the Valley Parade club's battle against relegation from the First Division at Reading.

Bradford have stopped Forest signing Waddle, who wrongly thought his contract could be torn up if a Premier club came in for him, on a free transfer. The former England forward failed to turn up for City's journey to Berkshire yesterday.

"I spoke to Chris last night and this morning, and he said he's still being physically sick," Chris Kamara, the Yorkshire club's manager, said last night. "Bradford City is my main concern and I do have a good relationship with Chris and I would not want to jeopardise that. I have to take Chris's word."

The Second Division's most keenly contested fixture will be Bristol's 82nd League derby - which takes place amid bitter memories of the crowd trouble at the last meeting between City and Rovers, at Ashton Gate in December. Since then, City have banned 20 supporters for life and are waiting to do the same to others, after they have been before the courts. "It was a shameful day and I thought seriously of resigning," City's chairman, Scott Davidson, recalled.

That game ended 1-1, and the return finds City travelling tomorrow to the Memorial Ground, the stadium Rovers share with Bristol Rugby Club. City have been threatened by the Football Association with the loss of two League points if their fans cause any more trouble. They will have just 650 supporters, bussed in under police escort, in the all-ticket crowd.