Football: Guilty Forest fined pounds 25,000 over payments

THE FOOTBALL Association fined Nottingham Forest pounds 25,000 yesterday after the club admitted making unauthorised payments to management and players. The charge related to payments made to staff outside their contracts with Forest covering a period from 1984 to 1993.

A recent FA inquiry hearing in Nottingham heard that a series of cash payments between pounds 150 to pounds 500 were made by the club to management staff. Forest also broke FA rules by offering cash inducements to players which were not recorded in the players' contracts.

The inquiry took into account the size of the payments and that the club had not broken the rules since 1993. The club was also ordered to pay the costs of the hearing and was censured.

Charges of financial irregularities against the former manager, Brian Clough, were dropped last year because of his ill-health. An FA spokesman said Ronnie Fenton, Clough's assistant at the time of the payments, would shortly face charges of financial irregularity.

"We are very pleased that the whole matter has finally been put to rest," Forest's chief executive, Philip Soar, said. "The charges relate to alleged incidents which happened as long as 15 years ago and no one responsible for the club today can have any direct knowledge of any event which may have occurred."

Meanwhile yesterday, the FA launched an investigation into claims that Newcastle United players sold complimentary 1999 FA Cup final tickets to touts. Newcastle say they will co-operate fully with the FA over claims that 22 Newcastle players - including first-team players - attempted to sell 72 complimentary tickets for the final last May.

A consortium hoping to take charge of Crystal Palace said yesterday that it hopes to persuade Palace's former owner, Ron Noades, to return to the struggling First Division side.

"We want Ron back," Simon Hume-Kendall, the organiser of the so-called directors' consortium, said. "He will not do anything until we have a deal he can look at, but it would be in the best interests of Crystal Palace if he becomes involved."

Noades, who owns Palace's Selhurst Park ground and is the owner-chairman- manager of Brentford, would have to give up his interests in Brentford to return to Palace. The directors' consortium hopes to table an official bid to the club's administrator within days, and Noades' involvement, if any, will become apparent soon afterwards.

Free-kicks will take on a new look under an experiment being introduced by the Football League today. Referees at Auto Windscreens Shield matches will be able to move free-kicks forward by 10 yards if they have booked a player for dissent or unsporting behaviour.

Coventry City are poised to ease their defensive injury crisis by signing the Swedish full-back Tomas Gustafsson from AIK Solna for an undisclosed fee. Gustafsson, 26, will sign today subject to a medical.

The Arsenal defender Matthew Upson discovered yesterday that he has ruptured his cruciate ligament. The 20-year-old centre-back was injured during Saturday's win at Leicester.

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