Football: Hammers hit by double European blow
Sunday 05 September 1999
An pounds 8,500 fine was imposed "for improper conduct of the supporters" in the second leg of the final in Metz, France. The Hammers will also have to pay pounds 3,500 for "failing to observe competition regulations" laid down by European football's governing body over the initial registration of players ahead of one of the earlier games, against the Finnish side Jokerit.
Crowd trouble flared at the final after Nenad Jestrovic had scored for the home side midway through the second half, reducing the score to 2- 2 on aggregate. Coins were thrown and it is understood that travelling fans shook the perimeter fencing. West Ham's secretary, Graham Mackrell, said: "We have accepted the punishment and there will be no appeal."
The Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp has said that playing their home Champions' League matches at Wembley could be a disadvantage to his side. Arsenal, who will repeat their second-home experiment of last season in order to boost their capacity, take on Barcelona, Fiorentina and AIK Stockholm at Wembley in the group stage.
The Dutch marksman is worried that the switch will mean Arsenal cannot benefit from home advantage. "I don't really like playing our matches at Wembley," he said. "I think it's a disadvantage for us. The pitch is very wide and our midfield will be spread out. We have to work a lot harder. I prefer to play on our own pitch."
Barcelona will be returning to the scene of their European Cup triumph in 1992 and their contingent of six Dutchmen have sent out a warning to their colleague. "The Barcelona players have told me that Wembley will suit their team very well. It's bad luck for us, although I hope history will have no bearing on the result," Bergkamp said. "It will be a huge game. We're both attacking teams and it should be one of the great battles of the competition."
Wolves have agreed a pounds 3.5m fee with Bristol City for the striker Ade Akinbiyi. The Wolves manager, Colin Lee, has tracked him since he sold Robbie Keane to Coventry for pounds 6m. The Nigerian should be installed at Molin-eux early next week, subject to personal terms and medical tests. He returned from international duty with a knee injury, but it was not deemed serious.
Alan Ball's Portsmouth have signed the French defender Louis Noe Pamarot on loan from Nice until the end of the season, with the option of buying him for a likely fee of around pounds 1m. Hearts look likely to become the latest club to forge links with a media group. The ambitious Scottish Premier League outfit are expected to announce substantial backing from Scottish Media Group. But SMG, who hold controlling interests in Scottish Television, the Glasgow Herald and Glasgow Evening Times, refused to comment.
The Hearts chief executive, Chris Robinson, said that there would be a formal statement tomorrow morning, but stressed "This is not a takeover".
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