Football: Fashanu facing further trouble: Oldham's complaint

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The Independent Online
John Fashanu does not need any more controversy, but, a day before renewing combat with Gary Mabbutt, the Wimbledon striker finds himself threatened again with disciplinary action.

Oldham have demanded that both the Football Association and the players' union take action over incidents that occurred in this week's game between the two clubs.

Having studied a video recording, Oldham claim there were several instances that show an elbow being used illegally and where a punch was thrown. Although no players are named in their complaint, Fashanu was at the centre of controversy for a series of heavy challenges which left the Oldham defender, Richard Jobson, with concussion and requiring X-rays on a damaged shoulder.

Following their first clash of the night, the Oldham manager, Joe Royle, was seen to remonstrate angrily with Fashanu from the touchline. He was still fuming after the match and, after careful consideration, decided his club had to pursue their grievance.

The Oldham secretary, Terry Cale, said there was a case to answer. 'We have written to the FA and the PFA, drawing their attention to certain incidents and asking them to consider what action can be taken.' Officials have backed up their complaints with videos of the game.

Fashanu escaped disciplinary action when his elbow fractured Mabbutt's cheekbone and almost cost the Spurs skipper the sight of his right eye when the sides met in November. Tomorrow, Selhurst Park stages the return fixture.

The Premier League is prepared to move Blackburn's final match, at home to Ipswich, back to the original date of Saturday 7 May, if their chances of winning the championship have not improved after the next round of games.

Should Manchester United win at Ipswich this Sunday or if the differential remains at two points or more after Blackburn's visit to Coventry the following night, then only United's finale, the Old Trafford game with Coventry, will stay for live television coverage on Sunday 8 May.

That would satisfy those teams at the foot of the table who have protested that their fellow strugglers, Ipswich, would have an unfair advantage if, by playing a day late, they know exactly what they have to do to escape relegation. Even so there is still a possibility that Blackburn, with a chance of finishing top, will be disadvantaged by playing a day before United.

There could be additional places for European countries in the 1998 World Cup finals in France through inter-continental play-offs. So says the Uefa president, Lennart Johansson, who told a Uefa Congress, at which he was re- elected for a second four-year term, that Europe could have as many as 18 teams.

The Fifa president, Joao Havelange, suggested last month that the number of teams in the World Cup finals be increased from 24 to 32 to satisfy growing demands, particularly from Asia and Africa, for more places.

Johansson said that, in the past, the number of European countries had always been cut. 'But even if you give the other continents an extra place each, there could still be four places not distributed geographically,' he said. 'These places could be decided by play-offs, with the strongest nations coming through.'

The congress approved the admission of Israel, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Macedonia as full members, bringing the numbers in the Uefa family to 49.

Arsenal have brought their reserve game with Crystal Palace forward 24 hours to next Monday, to give their midfielder, David Hillier, the chance to prove his fitness two days before the European Cup- Winners' Cup final with Parma in Copenhagen.

Martin Keown joined the Arsenal injury list on Wednesday and, with John Jensen already ruled out, Arsenal have serious concerns about their midfield. There is no official word on the extent of Keown's injury, but it is believed to be a pulled hamstring and he is apparently pessimistic about his chances.

Last night's football, page 39