FOOTBALL: King denies `racist' slur on Rockett

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The Independent Online
The Mansfield Town manager, Andy King, has strongly denied making alleged racist remarks and using abusive language during his side's 5-2 victory at Scarborough on Tuesday.

King was reported to the Football League following an alleged incident when Scarborough's black midfielder, Jason Rockett, was sent off by the referee, Trevor West, during the second half of the Third Division match.

King said yesterday: "How anyone can call me a racist I don't know. Have they seen the colour of my assistant manager, Keith Alexander?

"I refute this allegation totally. I think the crowd are guilty of sour grapes. Their team are doing badly. They have a new manager and won't have a go at him yet. So they have to take their anger out on someone -and that person is me."

A Scarborough spokesman said the club's directors and the referee had decided to act following complaints by the public. But the Hull official said: "I was not aware of Andy King making any racist comments or using abusive language.

"The first I knew of any incident was after the game when Scarborough's safety officer came to my dressing-room with Mr King.

"The safety officer said some fans had complained about remarks the Mansfield manager had made when the Scarborough player was sent off.

"Mr King, who had joined the safety officer voluntarily, said he would deny the allegations. That is his right. But I am duty bound to report the complaints."

Mansfield's victory left Scarborough rooted to the bottom of the division and struggling to stay in the league.

King added: "This all happened after one of their lads was sent off. The fans applauded him to the dressing-room for a bad tackle and that to me summed up their hostile attitude to my team.

"Maybe I get a bit aggressive during a game and swear - what manager doesn't? - and if I have offended anyone with my language I apologise. But I stress, I'm no racist.

"All this has saddened me and slightly spoiled a brilliant Christmas where we were the only club in the country to score 12 goals in two games."

Meanwhile, the Nottingham Forest manager, Frank Clark, has insisted that the striker Stan Collymore will be staying at the City Ground. Manchester United and Liverpool are believed to be among a number of clubs pursuing the £6m-rated player, but Clark isdetermined not to sell the 23-year-old striker unless he is forced to.

"We'll be trying our best to keep Stan," Clark said. "I can't say categorically that he won't be sold, but if he is it will be done when it suits the club."

The Forest manager is hoping to persuade Collymore to sign a lucrative new contract and opened negotiations with the player and his agent last week.

Alan Smith's broadside against the fixture planners after Crystal Palace played two matches in 24 hours over Christmas was yesterday met with "astonishment" by the Premier League.

The Palace manager expressed his displeasure following Tuesday's goalless draw at Tottenham, saying: "Why we have played two games on the trot is beyond me.

"People cannot afford to lay out the best part of £50 for two games on successive days. It's like going to watch Phantom of the Opera and having to watch 11 stand-ins.

"I'm being paid for this and so are my players. The people who are being ripped off are the people who are watching. The first thing that should be asked is what the spectator wants.

"Twice I asked Tottenham to change this game and twice they told me they didn't want to do it. They could have changed it; it was their fixture.

"I don't blame them. The Premier League are the people to blame - the idiots who run the game. These people don't live in the real world."

The Premier League has responded to the outburst. "Frankly, we are astonished by Mr Smith's remarks," said its spokesman, Mike Lee.

"The Christmas and New Year period is a traditionally busy time for everyone involved in football. There is nothing unusual in this year's fixtures."