Football: FA rejects manager's red card for referees

NO MATCH is complete these days without the losing manager complaining about the refereeing decisions responsible for defeat, and Thursday night was no different, with Liverpool's joint manager, Roy Evans, launching a scathing attack on Steve Lodge after his side's 2-0 defeat to Manchester United.

The Football Association yesterday, though, maintained that standards "are as high as ever" despite Evans's claim that officials are "ruining the game." Evans said he was "sick to death" of decisions going against his team after Jason McAteer was penalised for handling in the penalty area.

But the FA spokesman, Steve Double, said: "Standards are as high as ever. [Evans] is entitled to his opinion - other managers will say the same next week."

The Premier League referees' officer, Philip Don, feels that instead of blaming Lodge for his side's defeat, Evans should look to his own players.

"I'm disappointed by Roy Evans' response," Don said. "I have not seen any criticism by Evans of his players. I felt that Steve Lodge had a good game and that the eight cautions were justified."

Liverpool are switching their search for a defender to the pounds 5m-rated Swede, Patrik Andersson of Borussia Monchengladbach, and are prepared for an exchange deal involving their unwanted striker, Sean Dundee.

George Graham will be given pounds 18m to transform Tottenham's fortunes if he becomes manager, according to David Pleat, Spurs' director of football who is looking after team affairs.

"We have resisted buying mediocrity and it is a great challenge for somebody," he said. "The club needs three quality players, of course we do. If we buy two or three top players for about pounds 18m we can become a top six club again. The new manager will have that money available."

Pleat also said that Graham's appointment, if it happens, must be done by the book or not at all.

"I am part of the League Managers' Association and we have been concerned recently about players who are so financially secure that they have threatened to withdraw their labour. Therefore it is important that we be seen as managers to be doing the right thing."

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, warned yesterday that clubs who sign up for a proposed breakaway Super League will be suspended from domestic and European competitions. Fifa, world football's governing body, will ask any offender's national federation to suspend them, thereby preventing them from playing in their national league or any European competition.

The chairman of Sheffield United, Mike McDonald, called on Fifa yesterday to punish Benfica for not paying the transfer fee on Brian Deane, who signed for the Portuguese side in January.

The Wolverhampton winger, Steve Froggatt, is having talks with Middlesbrough despite having agreed terms with Coventry. He had been close to joining the Sky Blues yesterday in time for today's trip to Charlton after Wolves accepted pounds 2m bids from both clubs.

Ron Atkinson has hit back at the Aston Villa chairman, Doug Ellis, for claiming in his autobiography that Atkinson cost the club the chance to sign Andy Cole five years ago. Atkinson, launching his own autobiography, said: "I would back my recall on footballing matters against anyone's and I do not ever remember us ever wanting to sign Andy Cole while I was at Villa. It sounds Deadly distorted to me."