Football: Cup finalists facing heavy FA fines

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The Independent Online
THE FA CUP finalists, Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday, both face the prospect of heavy fines by the Football Association, which has charged them with fielding under-strength teams in the run-up to Wembley, writes Trevor Haylett.

The managers, George Graham and Trevor Francis, believe they have genuine excuses, as they had to complete their fixtures in an exhaustive schedule, but the FA is determined to enforce Rule B (5), which states any club 'failing to play its full strength team shall be deemed guilty of misconduct.'

The games the FA has targeted are the game between the sides at Hillsborough on 6 May, when Arsenal fielded only one player who started in the first Cup final encounter, and the matches on 11 May when Arsenal, using not one player - apart from substitute David O'Leary - who appeared in their Wembley line-up, lost 3-1 at home to Tottenham, and Wednesday, with four Wembley-starting players on board, lost by the same score at Queen's Park Rangers. The teams have 14 days to reply and are certain to fight the charges.

Terry Venables, the embattled Tottenham chief executive, was involved in talks with Philip Green, a millionaire former discount stores chairman, yesterday as he continued his search for allies in his efforts to force the club chairman, Alan Sugar, to sell his 47.8 per cent. Venables had also been linked with Robert Earl, a restaurant tycoon. A spokesman for Sugar said: 'What happened to Mr Earl, and who will it be next week? Whatever, Mr Sugar is not a seller.'

Leeds United have offered David O'Leary, the 35-year-old Republic of Ireland central defender, a three-year contract after 20 years' service with Arsenal, who have given him a free transfer. 'Howard Wilkinson has been very persistent,' O'Leary said. 'He would like to pair me with Des Walker, if they are successful with a bid to Sampdoria.'

Frank Clark, the Nottingham Forest manager, is pessimistic about his chances of Nigel Clough at the City Ground. Clough, out of contract, has had transfer talks with both Liverpool and Leeds. 'It's looking as though the odds are against me in trying to keep hold of Nigel,' Clark said.

Ruud Gullit is leaving Milan and could be on his way to Marseille, the French club who on Wednesday defeated the Italians to lift the European Cup. The Dutchman, not even on the substitute's bench in Munich, said: 'The club's attitude towards me has changed, and I'm convinced they want me to look for another club.' His compatriot, Frank Rijkaard, has already stated his intention to leave.

Raymond Goethals, the 71-year-old Marseille coach, has confirmed that he will retire. 'I can't think of a nicer finale to my career. From now on I'm going to look at girls.'