Football: Gascoigne's public apology to Rangers

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The Independent Online
Paul Gascoigne, who has been the subject of a barrage of bad publicity following his dismissal during a Champions' League match on Wednesday and allegations that he had hit his wife, issued a public apology to his Rangers manager, Walter Smith, his team-mates and supporters for being ordered off in Amsterdam.

The 29-year-old, who joined Rangers from the Italian club Lazio in a pounds 4.3m transfer in the summer of 1995, said he was ready to face 50,000 fans and expose himself to the gaze of the media again by playing against Aberdeen today in the Scottish Premier Division.

"There were stories about me leaving or being sacked by the club," Gascoigne said in a public statement. "It's easy for me just to pack my bags and walk away from football. I ain't going to do that."

Gascoigne's only reference to the reports of his beating his wife, Sheryl, was to say that he took "a domestic problem" into Wednesday's match against Ajax, in which he was shown the red card after 28 minutes for kicking an opponent.

"First of all, what happened the other night, I'm disgraced in myself (sic) for letting down the manager, the chairman, the staff, Archie Knox, the players and obviously the supporters," Gascoigne said in his statement.

"It happened last year [a red card against Borussia Dortmund] and I said to the gaffer it wouldn't happen again. I thought throughout the season I became stronger for that."

He added that he had taken his "domestic problem" into the match with him and should not have. It showed in what happened in Amsterdam, he said, and he deeply regretted it.

He said he had to face up to this week's problems. "I have to stand up for myself after what has happened and come back stronger and try and play to the best of my ability for Rangers Football Club," said Gascoigne, who is under contract at Ibrox until 1998. "I deeply regret it. I've let down everyone at the club. I'm sure they don't need what I've given them in the last 48 hours.

"I love the club. The supporters have been great. This time last year when I let them down in a Champions' League game I came back stronger for it. Hopefully I can do that again."

On Radio 5 Live last night, Ray Clemence, who is part of the England backroom staff, confirmed that Glenn Hoddle, the national coach, was trying to contact Gascoigne and Smith to discuss the implications for his international career.

Gascoigne is reported to have been fined two weeks' wages by Rangers, estimated at between pounds 20,000 and pounds 30,000, for his red card against Ajax.

It now looks as though he will play against Aberdeen at Ibrox as Smith's side try to avoid losing three successive matches for the first time since August 1994. Before heading for Amsterdam and their 1-0 defeat by Ajax, Rangers lost a Premier Division match at Hibernian. Celtic are now only two points behind their Old Firm rivals at the top of the League, but the gap could have opened out to five points by the time they go to Tynecastle to play Hearts on Sunday.

One of Gascoigne's former clubs, Tottenham Hotspur, could be signing the 31-year-old Austrian international defender Anton Pfeffer. Austria Vienna have Pfeffer under contract until 1998, but they are prepared to let him go, at an undisclosed fee, if he can agree the move.

Pfeffer, who has 42 international caps and played in Austria's surprising 1-0 victory in Sweden in a World Cup qualifying match earlier this month, would help Spurs to fill the gap left in their defence by the long-term injury to Gary Mabbutt.

Terry Gibson has left Barnet, only five days after being named first- team coach by the Third Division club, who this week appointed Alan Mullery as director of football.

Terry Bullivant, who became caretaker-manager after Ray Clemence's pre- season departure, resigned 24 hours before last Saturday's visit to Cardiff. Gibson, like Mullery and Clemence a former Tottenham player, took charge for that game, which Barnet won 2-1. He resigned after meeting the Barnet chairman, Tony Kleanthous, to discuss his role under Mullery.

All perimeter fences at World Cup venues are to be pulled down in response to the stadium tragedy in Guatemala.

"Fences are for animals and prisoners - not football fans," Sepp Blatter, the general secretary of Fifa, football's world governing body, said yesterday. "I believe that all the fences for the World Cup in France should be taken down."

Fifa have asked that a minute's silence be observed at all football matches this weekend in memory of the more than 80 people who died in the disaster. In addition, at least 147 people were injured when fans tumbled down seats and stairs and were trapped by fencing at a World Cup qualifying match between Guatemala and Costa Rica on Wednesday.