Football: Mabbutt's skull fractured in Fashanu clash: Referee asks to view the match video

GARY MABBUTT, the Spurs captain, had an operation for a fractured skull last night following his clash with Wimbledon's John Fashanu in Wednesday's Premiership match at White Hart Lane. Keith Hackett, who refereed the game, took no action against Fashanu at the time of the incident, but has asked to see the club's video of the game.

Spurs will wait to see if the Sheffield official reports the matter to the Football Association before deciding whether or not to make a formal complaint of their own. Television film suggests that Fashanu's elbow struck Mabbutt in the face during an aerial challenge in the seventh minute.

Hackett must decide whether there was intent on the part of Fashanu to harm his opponent. 'Fash the Bash', as he is commonly known, has been accused of physical intimidation on numerous occasions over the years (see panel).

Although it is unusual for a referee to change his mind in such situations, there are precedents of the FA acting on video evidence, notably the suspension of Arsenal's Paul Davis for nine games five years ago, after the FA studied a video of a match in which Southampton's Glenn Cockerill had his jaw broken.

Less than a year ago John Uzzell, a Torquay player, had his career ended when Gary Blissett's elbow shattered his eye socket. Blissett, then of Brentford and now of Wimbledon, was charged with grievous bodily harm but cleared by a crown court of 'cynically and deliberately' thrusting his elbow into his opponent's face.

More recently, Peter Beardsley, of Newcastle, had his cheekbone broken when Liverpool's Neil Ruddock caught him with an elbow in a pre-season testimonial. Beardsley is considering a civil action against Ruddock.

It was originally thought that the injury to Mabbutt, who is a diabetic, was also to his cheekbone but yesterday afternoon it was diagnosed as a fractured skull - a rare injury in the game. The operation took place at the Princess Grace hospital in London. Mabbutt, 31, faces the prospect of several months out of action.

Fashanu, who went to see Mabbutt in hospital after the game, said: 'I am very upset about it. Gary is a friend of mine and he knows I didn't want to do him. I am very sorry - as I always am when anybody is injured.'

Terry Burton, the Wimbledon assistant manager, said: 'We are all genuinely concerned about Gary, particularly if the injury turns out to be more serious than was first thought. It is a physical game and there is a risk involved in many challenges when players are strongly committed.'

Spurs have launched an investigation into the club's dealings with Eric Hall, the agent. They intend to recover 'substantial' sums of money from Hall for services which the company can find 'absolutely no record of'. Hall said: 'As far as I am aware my previous dealings have all been authorised and approved by members of the board.'

Norwich will be on about pounds 10,000 a man to overcome Internazionale in the San Siro on 8 December and reach the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup, after losing the first leg at Carrow Road on Wednesday.

John MacPhail has been appointed player-manager of Hartlepool, in succession to Viv Busby, who was dismissed on Wednesday.

FASHANU FLASHPOINTS

August 1988: John O'Neill forced to retire after a Fashanu tackle snapped three knee ligaments and damaged a nerve. O'Neill, who was playing for Norwich, claimed the tackle was a 'hit' on him

November 1988: Fashanu found guilty of bringing game into disrepute after scuffle with Manchester United's Viv Anderson in tunnel

February 1989: Grimsby manager Alan Buckley accuses Fashanu of threatening Andy Tillson with physical violence.

August 1991: West Ham's Colin Foster suffers broken nose after clash with Fashanu. Foster accuses Fashanu of doing it on purpose.

March 1993: Fashanu sent off as he lies on stretcher after another clash with Viv Anderson.

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