Football: FA ready to probe O'Leary title 'bet'

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The Independent Online
THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION will be asking for an explanation from the Leeds United manager, David O'Leary, following his comments last night about an alleged bet placed on the outcome of the Premiership title race.

Following the goalless draw between O'Leary's side and Liverpool at Elland Road on Monday night, the Leeds manager was asked on television who he felt would win the Premiership.

O'Leary's response was: "I've got pounds 100 on Manchester United, so I'd better stick with them. I took a bet at the start of the season, so that's who my money is on."

But the 41-year-old Irishman yesterday claimed his comment was a light- hearted aside, saying: "If people can't take jokes... "

The onus will be on the FA to prove that O'Leary did have a bet. Their spokesman Steve Double said: "We want to investigate the circumstances of this. Our rules on betting are very clear and have been very well publicised in recent times, so no one should be in any doubt. Those involved in football - be it players, managers or officials - must not bet on football matches."

The rule came into force following Sir John Smith's report which was carried out in the wake trials of John Fashanu, Hans Segers and Bruce Grobbelaar, who were later cleared of charges of match-fixing.

In Sir John's it was clearly stated that no player or manager should bet on anything in relation to the game, with the only exception being the pools.

The Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear, was the last person to come close to falling foul of the rule after his side's 2-1 win over Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Worthington Cup in December, when he said: "We are 5-2 now (to win the Cup). We were 66-1 at the start and I think a few of the lads had a few quid on us."

Kinnear later clarified his remark by saying the comment related to friends of his and not the Wimbledon players.

The Chelsea player-coach, Gianluca Vialli, yesterday launched his pounds 1.5m libel case against the Roma coach, Zdenek Zeman, over allegations of doping.

Vialli, who was absent from the Rome court but represented by his lawyer, took exception to comments made by Zeman in a magazine last year. The Czech coach warned in an interview about the dangers of certain substances being used in Serie A and then expressed his surprise at the muscle development of Vialli and the current Juventus player Alessandro Del Piero.

In response Vialli branded Zeman "a terrorist" - a slight which prompted the coach to take reciprocal legal action against the Chelsea man.

As usual in Italy, the first audience was devoted to technical aspects of the case, which became inevitable after attempts at mediation failed. The next session before the judge Lucia Fanti is scheduled for 12 November.

Aston Villa have announced plans to expand Villa Park's capacity to more than 50,000 seats. The proposals, including a new shopping, hotel and industrial complex, would see the present 39,372 capacity rise by 11,000 and would create around 1,000 jobs.

An Aston Villa spokesman said: "The benefits of the football club's plans for the region's economy are well-known, as is the added prestige of attracting international games to the city."

Villa Park is already the venue for this season's European Cup-Winners' Cup final.

The FA Premier League Hall of Fame has joined forces with the Football League in a pounds 250,000 deal designed to extend the spirit of the Hall across the country. Last year the Football League announced their 100 all-time great players and that roll-call of distinction will be incorporated in the Hall of Fame when it opens on 12 June at London's County Hall. The deal provides the Football League with pounds 50,000 a season for the next five years.