Football: Dicks to face FA disrepute charge

Julian Dicks, the West Ham defender sent off nine times and cautioned on a further 52 occasions, faces a long suspension and/or a substantial fine if he is found guilty of an "offence" highlighted by television after being missed by the referee.

The Football Association announced yesterday that it is to charge Dicks with conduct likely to bring the game into disrepute. The decision was taken on the advice of Robbie Hart, who officiated in West Ham's match with Chelsea 10 days ago, after he studied the video of an incident in which the former Liverpool full-back appeared to stamp on the head of John Spencer.

Hart booked Dicks for pulling Spencer's shirt, although his boot clearly caught his head as he hurdled the fallen Chelsea striker. Spencer needed eight stitches, but went on to score twice in a 3-1 win. Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager, said Dicks "swore on his daughters' lives" that it was accidental.

However, after viewing the incident, the Darlington referee has recommended action against Dicks. An FA spokesman said: "It is clear he has a case to answer." Dicks, 27, who was dismissed at Arsenal on Saturday, confirmed last night that he will appeal against the charge.

The most notable "victim" of trial by television was Paul Davies, the Arsenal midfielder, banned for nine games after the camera caught his off-the-ball assault on Southampton's Glenn Cockerill.

But John Fashanu, then with Wimbledon, was found innocent of deliberately elbowing Tottenham's Gary Mabbutt after an FA commission viewed TV footage. Vinnie Jones, alleged to have butted Stan Collymore in a Wimbledon-Liverpool match, had his red card reduced to a yellow last week after the referee watched a tape.

The Football League has moved to pre-empt any breakaway by First Division clubs. Reacting to a report in yesterday's Independent that the bigger clubs felt it was unrealistic to expect them to share TV revenue with those in the lower divisions, the League's assistant secretary, Andy Williamson, warned that a separate division would have "no credibility".

Chairmen from Crystal Palace, Wolves, Leicester, Millwall, Oldham and Stoke will meet tomorrow to discuss their next move. Williamson called their stance "sabre-rattling", and said the difference between the sums they wanted and what they could expect was "infinitesimal".

Meanwhile, Uefa has revived its threat to cut English representation in the Uefa Cup from four clubs to three unless the FA accounts satisfactorily for the "conduct of English clubs" in the Intertoto Cup. Tottenham, Sheffield Wednesday and Wimbledon fielded teams comprising mainly reserves and guest players in the summer competition.

Ray Harford, the Blackburn Rovers manager, yesterday played down reports of strained relations between himself and Kenny Dalglish, who has moved upstairs as the champions' director of football. On the eve of the Coca- Cola Cup match at Swindon, Harford insisted: "There is no rift between myself and Kenny, and never has been. We've worked together for four years and we're good friends."

Billy McKinlay, the Scotland midfielder for whom Dundee United want pounds 1.25m, has emerged as Mark Atkins' probable replacement at Blackburn. Atkins has pulled out of the tonight's match in the hope of signing for Wolves, whose offer is thought to fall well below Harford's pounds 2.5m valuation. Blackburn may raise pounds 550,000 by selling Lee Makel, a reserve winger, to Crystal Palace.

Wolves banked pounds 900,000 yesterday when David Kelly, the Republic of Ireland striker, joined Sunderland. Peter Reid, the Sunderland manager, has also tabled an offer for Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Waddle.

Lou Macari, the Stoke City manager, has ordered two players to stay away from the Victoria Ground. Carl Beeston, a midfielder, has reportedly clashed with the club's physiotherapist, Ian Liversedge, while Macari is angry that Keith Scott has still not moved to the Potteries area, nine months after the striker's pounds 300,000 transfer from Swindon.