Football: Police stance worries managers

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The Independent Online
POLICE warnings to two managers that their safety could not be guaranteed at particular matches will be discussed at the next meeting of the Managers' Association.

Frank Clark, the new chief executive of the association, described the advice given to Shrewsbury's John Bond and Bobby Gould, of Coventry, as a 'worrying development and we are very concerned about it'.

The managing director at Leyton Orient, Clark claims that he was once advised by police that his side should lose a match at Burnley, whose place in the League was at stake. Otherwise, he was told, his players might be in danger.

'It would seem that the police are saying 'stay away' because they don't want to risk an incident,' he said. 'We will be discussing this at our next committee meeting and also with the police.

'We appreciate they have a difficult job to do. In the past police have taken extra steps to try to ensure there aren't incidents, but now we are giving in to the yobs and thugs. The police are telling managers to stay away.

'Where will it end? The next thing we know fans could be picking on the opposition's star player. The game could become a farce.'

Bond, held responsible by some Burnley followers for the club's decline from First Division status to that of also-rans, heeded police advice not to accompany his team to Turf Moor for an FA Cup match this month and disguised himself as a steward to watch the replay on Tuesday night from the back of the stand.

Gould had intended to act as an television analyst at West Bromwich Albion's FA Cup replay against Wycombe on Tuesday, but he also was warned off because of ill-feeling towards him from some supporters at the Hawthorns, where he used to be the manager.

Unanimity among Premier League chairmen is rare, but the very suggestion that the FA's breakaway clubs, who today will announce a sponsorship deal with Lucozade, should couple a second coach to their bandwagon brought a show of solidarity that will have delighted the Football League. The proposal for a Second Division was dismissed without even a vote.

Rick Parry, the Premier League's chief executive, described the session, which generated two working parties, as 'the most constructive meeting we have had for a long time'. One group will produce recommendations on criteria for Premier League stadiums, but not on stadium capacities or the retention of some terrace areas. The other will examine a recommendation by Terry Venables that a Premier under-21 league should be formed.

Venables, Tottenham's chief executive, put forward the under-21 league idea as a means of filling a gap in the game's structure. 'We are saying we will have a look at the concept,' Parry said.

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