Football: Poll admits error over penalty call

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GRAHAM POLL has admitted he was wrong to refuse Newcastle United a penalty during Saturday's Premiership match against West Ham United at St James' Park.

Newcastle were furious when the referee turned down their appeals after Paul Dalglish was brought down by Andy Impey during West Ham's 3-0 victory. Now the Premier League referees' officer, Philip Don, has revealed that Poll accepts he should have awarded a first-half penalty, but he nevertheless called on managers to stop criticising match officials.

"Graham Poll popped in to see me and we had a look at the Newcastle video against West Ham. Graham didn't give a penalty when Paul Dalglish was brought down and now accepts it was a penalty," Don said. "I think it is superb for him to admit this and it just shows that referees are human."

Newcastle's manager, Ruud Gullit, and his striker Alan Shearer both criticised Poll's performance, especially for another incident in the 48th minute when Stuart Pearce was sent off for elbowing Trevor Sinclair. The Magpies have said they will appeal against the dismissal, but the Football Association said yesterday it had not heard from the club.

Newcastle may not fare too well if they do appeal. Don stood by Poll's decision to send off Pearce, saying: "I support Graham on the sending- off of Stuart Pearce for illegal use of the elbow. I don't think there is any argument at all on the sending-off. In the referee's opinion, and on the video, Stuart Pearce clearly goes in and catches the opponent on the back of his head with his elbow."

Don has leapt to the defence of officials and accused the Premier League managers of looking for easy scapegoats after another referee, Mike Reed, came in for criticism by Tottenham's manager, George Graham, after Spurs were denied a free-kick in the build-up to Charlton's equaliser during Monday's 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane.

"If referees made the same amount of mistakes as players they wouldn't get on the list," he said. "I was at the game and Mike was utterly consistent in his decisions. You can't ask for more than that. You can't have common sense and consistency at the same time and if you asked the 20 Premier League managers which they would prefer I'm sure they would go for consistency. It has always been the case the referees have been made into scapegoats."

Paolo Di Canio, the temperamental Italian who pushed over another referee, Paul Alcock, might be thinking it is foreigners and not referees who are cast in that role. His performance during the incident has cost him pounds 90,000.

Sheffield Wednesday have got round Professional Footballers' Association rules on players being fined only a maximum of two weeks' wages. The 28-year-old was involved in two separate offences as he was sent-off for his part in a brawl which resulted in him lashing out at the Arsenal defender, Martin Keown, during the 1-0 win on 26 September, before his push on Alcock.

The club have therefore fined Di Canio two weeks' wages for each incident, a total of pounds 68,000 as he earns pounds 17,000 per week, to add to the pounds 10,000 fine handed out by an FA disciplinary commission 11 days ago. The remaining pounds 12,000 takes into account solicitors' fees as the Italian initially used a Doncaster law firm before switching to a lawyer employed by his father and son agents, Moreno and Matteo Roggi.

Pierre van Hooijdonk's hopes of making his first reappearance in a Nottingham Forest shirt disappeared yesterday when heavy rain washed out a reserve match against Birmingham.

The Republic of Ireland coach, Mick McCarthy, will invoke the five-day ruling on the release of players from their clubs following Uefa's green light for the European Championship qualifier against Yugoslavia in Belgrade on 18 November. The tie, postponed last month because of the threat of Nato air raids, will see several players ruled out of the preceding weekend's Premiership fixtures.

David Ginola's days of exile from the French team may be over. The Tottenham forward, repeatedly overlooked by the former French coach, Aime Jacquet, has fresh hope of returning to the national side under the World Cup holders' new coach, Roger Lemerre, and adding to his 17 caps.

Lemerre said: "I brought David into the French set-up first of all. I've known him since he was a boy, and he was tremendous. Ginola is a creative player. He has cultivated a style that is skill for skill's sake and it is one of the ingredients of success. Of course he must make the effort for the team, but I believe that he makes that effort."

Chris Waddle has ended his spell with the Torquay United, after finding the journey from his Sheffield home too much. The former England winger is still two games short of 600 League appearances.

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