Football: Guard for referee

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The Independent Online
PAUL ROBINSON, the referee charged by the FA with misconduct after allegations surrounding an FA Cup first-round match between Darlington and Solihull Borough, was given a security escort from Leyton Orient's Matchroom Stadium last night. Robinson twice refused to comment on allegations by two members of the Darlington party that he was paid money by officials of the Dr Martens League club shortly after their 1-1 draw at Feethams on 15 November.

An hour after the end of Orient's 3-1 win over Brighton, the Hull official ran from a side door into a waiting car. At the end of the game a six- man security guard surrounded Robinson and his two assistants, and instead of taking them down the tunnel, escorted the trio to the corner of the pitch and back under the main stand to the dressing-rooms.

Guards were then posted on the referees' dressing-room door. The Orient secretary, David Burton, insisted this was "normal practice for a high- risk game", though observers with 35 years' experience of watching the club's home games could not recall such an occurrence.

Asked whether he felt Robinson should have been allowed to referee the game, Burton said: "We did not know anything about FA charges until after the game. We received no instructions from the FA and acted solely because of the large number of Brighton fans attending the game."

Moments later Burton opened a side door of the main stand to allow Robinson to run off. The official, who has been a Nationwide League referee for two years and is vice-president of the Hull Sunday League's Referees' Association, controlled the game well but angered Brighton fans by sending off Paul Linger for two bookable offences.

Both Robinson and Solihull Borough have protested their innocence and have requested personal hearings at which they have made it clear they will defend the charges.

Nottingham Forest have been cleared by fraud squad officers of allegations of malpractice over transfers during the Brian Clough era following claims made in the Premier League commission "bung" inquiry.