FOOTBALL: Kinnear to remain in the stands

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The Independent Online


The Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear, has banned himself from the touchline in an attempt to stop him straying deeper into disciplinary waters. He has taken the unusual step while awaiting Football Association punishment for successive outbursts against what he claims are deplorable refereeing standards.

Kinnear will keep himself away from the dug-out until the FA hearing, which is unlikely to take place before the middle of next month. He must already answer one misconduct charge for calling the referee Mike Reed a "cheat" after the game at Newcastle, and a second seems certain to follow this week's explosion during the game with Manchester United.

After the controversy of Alan Kimble's sending-off, followed immediately by a vigorously contested winner from United's Steve Bruce, Kinnear was dismissed from the dug-out for encroaching on to the pitch. Later he labelled the referee Robbie Hart "Hitler" and said he was the worst in the League. The Wimbledon owner, Sam Hammam, is also likely to be in trouble after he was restrained by the police at the same time. Officers at South Norwood are sending reports on the incidents to the FA.

Hammam was also on the offensive after the game, claiming officials were biased in favour of United and the big clubs. "We are considering writing to him about those comments," an FA spokeswoman said.

In a club statement, both club and manager said it was in everyone's interests if Kinnear stayed in the stand. "We wish to stress that the club has not imposed this action on Joe," the statement read. "Both the club and Joe agreed it was the right action to take until the FA hearing."

In 1992 Kinnear was banned from the touchline for a month for insulting comments made to a referee during a game against Blackburn. Earlier that year he was fined £1,500 for swearing at officials after a game with Arsenal, and a similar amount after an outburst in a reserve game against Luton.

Wimbledon will welcome the meeting in two weeks' time between all 22 Premiership referees and representatives of both the players' union and the managers' association. Hot issues to be discussed include the Kimble sending-off as well as the Paul Ince goal for Manchester United last weekend, scored as the Ipswich goalkeeper, Craig Forrest, was being booked.

George Graham has responded favourably to the FA's decision to charge him with misconduct, saying a properly constituted inquiry was the only way he could clear his name. "The Premier League inquiry was a travesty," said the former Arsenal manager, who added that the decision of the club to sack him after the Premier League inquiry "amounted to a £1m fine without anything being proved against me. They had already made their minds up and were demanding my dismissal from Arsenal before the evidence had been presented.

"Acting on the advice of my lawyers, I declined to answer further questions and so the Football Association's proceedings will be the first time that my side of the story will be told."