Football: FA slams Newcastle sleaze

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THE Football Association yesterday described the sleaze allegations surrounding Newcastle United's chairman, Freddy Shepherd, and vice-chairman, Douglas Hall, as "deeply damaging" and said the anger the club's supporters as "utterly understandable".

While the FA have been advised against bringing disciplinary action, the chief executive, Graham Kelly, issued a statement in which he said the whole incident strengthened the FA's intention to introduce a code of conduct for everyone actively involved in football.

Kelly said: "The allegations of recent days, if true, cannot be seen as other than deeply damaging to those concerned. The anger of supporters is utterly understandable. They have deserved better, much better."

He said legal advice was to await moves by Newcastle, adding that "disciplinary action by the FA is not the way forward". The FA, he said, was giving urgent consideration to the proposals of Sir John Smith, the former deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. "His recent report called for a 'Code of Conduct' by which all those active in the game can be judged."

Directors of Newcastle United plc were meeting at St James' Park yesterday to discuss the fresh sleaze allegations against fellow board members Hall - son of the former chairman Sir John Hall - and Shepherd. At least three non-executive members were expected to issue a "them or us" ultimatum to force the pair to resign, but no statement was expected before the Stock Exchange opened this morning.