Football: Collymore meets Harkness for talks

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The Independent Online
STAN COLLYMORE and Steve Harkness met privately last night - but still could not resolve their differences.

Aston Villa's Collymore accused Harkness, his former Liverpool team-mate, of racial abuse when the two sides met at Villa Park earlier this month. The row has simmered since and the pair were still standing by their versions of events after a four-hour discussion at the Professional Footballers' Association headquarters yesterday.

Both players agreed to sit and talk without lawyers, agents or union officials, in an attempt reach agreement. Although neither would amend their version of events, they did agree to call a truce in their bitter war of words.

Collymore and Harkness left the meeting without comment - but the PFA is claiming the matter is now closed.

Gordon Taylor, the PFA chairman, said: "It has been a long, difficult meeting and the outcome is unsatisfactory from our point of view. The end product is that both players wish the episode to end. Each player had his own opinions, and neither was prepared to back down or apologise.

"What they were prepared to do was to meet face to face on their own, without anyone else in the room, to try to discuss the situation and resolve their differences. I talked to them both privately and the best we could achieve was for them to meet without anyone else around."

Collymore attended with his agent, Paul Stretford, while Harkness had his lawyer present for all but the private meeting between the players.

Taylor added: "The idea was for them to be private and quiet, to achieve some form of respect for each other and to behave like sensible adults.

"The union has done its best to help resolve the differences, but it was still difficult for both sides. Stan had come looking for an apology, and Steve was not prepared to give one.

"But we hope now that it is the end of a festering situation with claim and counter claim that wasn't doing anyone any good. Since the game, positions had become entrenched. Both players put their points of view, and now they have to live with it. I just hope that is the last we hear of it."

l A brave display by their goalkeeper, Robert Douglas, helped Dundee earn a 0-0 draw at Rangers last night in a Tennents Scottish Cup quarter- final tie. The replay is next Tuesday.