Football: Hartson's judgement day

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The Independent Online
JOHN HARTSON faces the Football Association's disciplinary committee at Lancaster Gate today with the support of managers past and present as he seeks to avoid further punishment for his training ground assault on Eyel Berkovic.

Hartson was fined two weeks wages by West Ham (about pounds 10,000) at the time and both Harry Redknapp, his manager at West Ham, and Joe Kinnear, who has since bought him for Wimbledon, hope the FA will not punish him again.

Kinnear, who will be attending the hearing with Wimbledon officials, said: "It happened at another club prior to us buying him and we will be pleading for leniency. West Ham have written two to three letters on his behalf and there is one from Eyel Berkovic supporting him. It will be a big blow for us and him if he is suspended."

West Ham will not be represented at the hearing but, explained Redknapp, that was always the case. "I think he decided that on advice from his agent and lawyer," said Redknapp. "No one can say he is not guilty but it was months ago and it would be unfair to fine him again. He made a big mistake and he paid for it with a pounds 10,000 cheque for Leukemia Busters [the charity all West Ham fines go to]."

There is no obvious precedent and, given the change in club, the FA may settle for a further fine. However, in a much more serious case Tony Kay, one of the players involved in the sixties bribery scandal, was banned for life despite being bought unwittingly by Everton from Sheffield Wednesday for a club record pounds 60,000 fee after the offences were committed but before they were uncovered. Everton received no compensation.

While such a punishment is out of the question there have been some lengthy bans handed out for assault with Paul Davis of Arsenal being suspended for nine matches after breaking Southampton player Glenn Cockerill's jaw in an off-the-ball incident unseen by the referee in 1988.

Hartson received his fifth booking of the season on Saturday (his second with Wimbledon) and will be suspended for two matches for that offence.

There was confusion over the eventual destination of Juninho over the weekend, with his father saying that the Brazilian midfielder would prefer to join Middlesbrough than Aston Villa - although national radio in Spain reported last night that he would be remaining with Atletico Madrid until the end of the season.

His father, Osvaldo, said in a Sunday paper yesterday: "He would prefer to go to Middlesbrough if he comes back to England. He was not impressed with Aston Villa."

Kevin Campbell called off a one-man strike yesterday after his Turkish club, Trabzonspor, paid his wages - but his agent is to go to Fifa to secure a free transfer. The former Nottingham Forest and Arsenal striker was threatening to pull out of his club's game because a payment under the terms of his contract was two months late. However, Trabzonspor hurriedly came up with the cash, and Campbell played.

Leicester City's Swedish international defender Pontus Kaamark has rejected the chance of a return home with the league champions, AIK Stockholm, but he is still undecided over his future. Kaamark, whose deal at Filbert Street ends this summer, is agonising over whether to return to be with his family in his native country or to sign a new contract with the Foxes.

One foreign player definitely returning home is Newcastle United's unsettled Italian defender Alessandro Pistone, who has gone on a month's loan to the Serie A strugglers Venezia.

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