Football: Prior places blame on club

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The Independent Online
THE FORMER Leicester City centre-back Spencer Prior has maintained that the club is to blame for the Worthington Cup final ticket scandal - not the players who find themselves in trouble with the Football Association.

Prior claims that Leicester allowed him to buy 70 tickets for the 1997 Coca-Cola Cup final against Middlesbrough. The player, now at Derby, insists that the same ticket allocation system was in place for last season's Worthington Cup final against Tottenham.

There were segregation problems leading to violence at the final, due to tickets finding their way into the hands of Spurs fans sitting in sections reserved for Leicester supporters. "What sickens me is that the players are being punished by the FA - but it's Leicester who are entirely responsible," Prior said. "Given the number of tickets that Leicester make available, it's hardly a big surprise many find their way into the wrong hands."

Prior, who played in the 1997 final against Boro, claimed: "I was allowed to buy 70 tickets for that game. Every player had the same offer. I still have friends at Filbert Street and I know nothing had changed for last season's final against Spurs."

Tony Cottee and Andy Impey have been charged by the Football Association with "the irresponsible distribution of tickets". 24 players and back- room staff at the club face misconduct charges for failing to meet an FA deadline for assisting their ticketing inquiry.

The Football League director of communications, Peter Rowe, said: "After Spencer Prior's revelations I don't think Leicester can claim to have acted in any way responsibly. As a result of these disclosures we shall review the ticket allocation process for future finals. We may suggest how many tickets clubs should give to employees and that may be as few as 10."

The Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier, is poised to sign the French under-21 player Michael Silvestre in a pounds 3m deal. The Internazionale defender has also been linked with Manchester United, but sources close to the transfer claim it is a one-horse race.

Houllier is also keen to sign the French Under-21 centre-half Jean-Alain Boumsong from Le Havre. However, Juventus are preparing a pounds 4m offer.