Football: Gregory refuses to take vow of silence

JOHN GREGORY has declined a request to write to the Football Association promising not to repeat making adverse comments to match officials in the future.

The Aston Villa manager begins a 28-day touchline ban after tomorrow's FA Cup tie with Darlington for comments he made to the fourth official, Andy D'Urso, during the match at Leicester in September.

"My particular offence justified the punishment handed out by the FA but I cannot see why I should comply with their request to write the letter," said Gregory. "I cannot say it will never happen again but I will try my best to see that it doesn't.

Tony Parkes has only to say "yes" to the owner of Blackburn Rovers, Jack Walker, and he will become the club's manager for the rest of the season. Parkes, currently the caretaker manager following the sacking of Brian Kidd, has been told the job is his if he wants it after an unbeaten run of seven games that have seen Rovers move into contention for the First Division play-offs. Parkes has stalled over a decision so far, but Walker wants an answer and has delayed approaching any candidates in the past few days, putting a full-time appointment on hold.

The long-serving Parkes, who is in his fourth spell of temporary command, has yet to decide whether he wants to take on the task of leading the team to promotion. Rovers have had a nightmare trying to find a replacement for Kidd as Dave Bassett stayed at Barnsley and Alan Curbishley has yet to be tempted into leaving Charlton Athletic. Blackburn have interviewed a half-dozen possibles for the post without being completely satisfied with any of them.

Parkes can have the position if he gives Walker an answer in the next 48 hours. The playing staff have responded to Parkes, with many paying tribute to his no-nonsense style. However, the big question is whether he could spend money or is allowed to let some of the club's expensive fringe players go, two tasks a caretaker is usually not expected to perform.

Wembley chiefs have assured supporters that they will not be priced out of visiting the new national stadium. Peter Middleton, the chairman of the Football League, yesterday spoke of his fears that supporters of lower league clubs would not be able to afford trips to the stadium, where rebuilding costs have been estimated at up to pounds 475m.

The Football League stages five major football finals at Wembley each year - the Worthington Cup, the three divisional play-offs and the Auto Windscreen Shield. "Our fans are not overflowing with money, and we have to make sure they can afford to get into matches at the new stadium,"said Middleton.

But a statement from Wembley National Stadium Ltd yesterday said it had "acted to re-assure fans that ticket prices at the planned new stadium will not rise significantly. The condition of WNSL's Lottery grant rightly insist that the price of general admission tickets are maintained at affordable levels".

Fulham have completed the signing of the veteran Sunderland midfielder Kevin Ball for pounds 200,000. The 35-year-old had been with the Wearside club for almost 10 years.

The Sunderland defender Martin Scott has been forced to quit the game because of injury. The 31-year-old, who joined the north-east club from Bristol City five years ago, has been troubled by a persistent ankle problem.

John Aldridge has signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract as the Tranmere Rovers manager. The deal ties the former Liverpool striker to the Wirral club until July 2002.

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