Football: Referee defends Berg dismissal

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(First Edition) The referee at the centre of the sending off controversy at Blackburn on Sunday has said he stands by the decision to dismiss Henning Berg, but indicated he might be prepared to change his mind if video evidence shows it was harsh.

Following criticism by the Blackburn manager, Kenny Dalglish, and Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, the Football Association will contact Gerald Ashby for his views on the incident. Last week the Tottenham defender, Kevin Scott, who had been ordered off against Queen's Park Rangers, was reprieved when the referee, Peter Jones, agreed after watching a recording of the game that he had made a mistake.

The decision to dismiss the Rovers full-back and award United a penalty proved a turning point at Ewood Park, resulting in an equaliser for the Premiership champions who went on to win by two goals. Opposition to the Worcestershire official centred on the view that Berg had played the ball in a collision with Lee Sharpe.

Ashby's contention is that the ball was played 'after he (Berg) made contact with the opponent' and his report to the FA will make clear the sending off was for 'denying' a goal-scoring opportunity. Ashby said: 'I thought I had a reasonable view of the incident and it was something I did not have to spend time debating in my own mind. It seemed clear-cut at the time but I'm not naive enough to think I never make a mistake. 'Whether I change my mind having seen the film is an option for me to consider. The FA has opened up this channel of appeal and it's only right players have such an opportunity.'

Dennis Bergkamp, Internazionale's disaffected Dutch international, is being lined up for a move to Germany. The Bayern Munich president, Franz Beckenbauer, is said to have offered more than pounds 5m for the player, who has recently been linked with Arsenal and Manchester United.

Joe Corrigan, the former Manchester City and England keeper has been appointed Liverpool's first specialist goalkeeping coach. The Aston Villa striker, John Fashanu, will be out for at least a month after an Achilles tendon operation.

The Leeds United captain, Gary McAllister, has agreed a new contract which will keep him with the club until the summer of 1999. The 29-year-old Scottish international's new deal covers the remaining eight months of his present contract and an additional four years.

The Heart of Midlothian defender, Alan McLaren, looks set to become a Rangers player today. The deal would involve pounds 1m and David McPherson going in the opposite direction. One move that was completed yesterday saw Aberdeen secure the St Johnstone defender, John Inglis, for pounds 400,000.

Fifa's president, Joao Havelange, will propose this week that Europe should receive only three of the coveted eight additional places at the 1998 World Cup in France.