Football: Let us hear the tape says Hoddle

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The Independent Online
THE CONTROVERSY over who said what in the England dressing room in Luxembourg was in danger of turning into farce yesterday. Following newspaper reports that Glenn Hoddle, the England coach, had clashed with his captain, Alan Shearer, after last week's European Championship qualifying match, the debate turned to the question of whether or not someone had tape-recorded the alleged conffrontation.

The producers of Talk Radio's Baker and Kelly phone-in programme were yesterday facing pressure to produce the tape, while the Football Association, Hoddle and the BBC radio presenter David Mellor joined forces to call upon Danny Baker and his co-host, Danny Kelly, to produce the tape or withdraw their claims.

David Davies, the FA's director of public affairs, said: "If anyone is making an issue about the supposed existence of a tape then surely they will be making it public. We would be very interested to hear it.

"Those others who were also on the team coach were not aware of any tape and I think that speaks for itself."

Hoddle himself said: "If it's true [that there is a tape] that's great. Let's get hold of it and then we'll all find out the truth."

Dennis Roach, Hoddle's agent, added: "All we are saying is if there is a tape, let's hear it because the only things on it will be normal dressing- room conversations."

Carolyn Smyth, the executive producer of Trans World International and the person responsible for the radio programme, refused to make any direct comment on the existence of the tape or whether she had heard it.

It is understood that Baker will make reference to the tape debate on Saturday evening's edition and Smyth said his comments will be `illuminating'.

Standing firm amid the mounting criticism, she said: "I defend the programme's right to say what was said. I defend the programme 100 per cent."

Speaking on the Talk Radio show at the weekend, Baker sparked off the row when he said a recording had been passed around the England players who were "killing themselves laughing'.

He said: "We had a call from a friend of Danny Kelly's (Baker's co-presenter) who is a top English footballer at the highest level and he said there is a tape of Alan Shearer and Glenn Hoddle. One of the team switched on a tape recorder and caught the moment of the confrontation.

"This is an absolutely bona fide story. He said the tape was passed around on the coach and played on everyone's Walkmans. They were all killing themselves laughing."

Baker added: "It has now been put on a recordable mini-disc so there's probably a few copies around. Apparently there's a lot more on it than the Shearer thing. As soon as Glenn Hoddle leaves the room there is a lot more vindictive comments and lots of laughing going on."

Smyth, who has produced Baker's radio phone-in programmes since they started in the early 1990s, claimed that both she and Kelly cared passionately about the game and were speaking as any supporter would.

"Danny also cares passionately about England and the conversations he and Danny [Kelly] have are the type you would hear in any pub - I think it is what fans talk about," Smyth said.

David Mellor, who is the host of the Six-0-Six football phone-in on BBC Radio Five Live, a rival to Talk Radio, urged Baker and Kelly to produce evidence to back up the claims. Mellor said: "My own private opinion is this whole business comes from Danny Baker and my advice to him is put up or shut up. If he can produce a tape then we can all listen to it. If not he should put some Sellotape over his mouth.

"I think there are legitimate grounds for criticising Hoddle and I have criticised him on playing matters. But one can't criticise him for things that maybe did not happen or a tape that might not exist."

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