Football: FA to investigate Collymore

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The Independent Online
STAN COLLYMORE'S footballing future hangs in the balance as his agent, his club and football's governing bodies examine allegations of drug taking.

Collymore's agent, Paul Stretford, will speak to Aston Villa, the Football Association and the Professional Footballers' Association today about claims in a Sunday newspaper that the England striker snorted cocaine and smoked marijuana while he was being treated for depression at the Priory Clinic in Roehampton.

The FA will meet government officials today to discuss work permit changes for non-European Union footballers. The Department for Education and Employment is keen to relax the regulations but Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, is worried about the possible impact.

The government hopes to make it easier for non-EU players to obtain work permits before the start of next season - but Taylor believes teams would suffer if mediocre foreigners continued to overrun British football. "I am astonished," he said. "There's been some mention of changing the criteria but nothing like the weight of opinion that seems to be emanating from government departments."

To get a work permit at the moment non-EU players must satisfy several conditions. The player's country must be above a certain position in the rankings and he must have played in 75 per cent of their internationals over the last two years. The player must also be one of the best-paid at his British club.

"Now the government are saying they just need to be in the squad, that a permit should be for the length of a contract and more young players should be brought in," Taylor said.

Bruce Grobbelaar has turned down an offer to coach the newly-formed Cape Town Ajax next season. The decision comes despite his achievement in taking Seven Stars to fifth place in the South African Premier League, the best finish for any club in their first season in top-flight South African football.

Stars, who were 13th when the former Liverpool goalkeeper took over as coach in January, are merging with Cape Town Spurs to form the new club, which will be owned by Ajax of Amsterdam.