Football: Ruddock given reprieve by FA

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The Independent Online
THE FOOTBALL Association is to take no action against the West Ham defender Neil Ruddock over remarks he made about the Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira following their infamous Upton Park bust-up.

Ruddock met the FA compliance officer Graham Bean today to discuss the comments made on television in the aftermath of his being spat on by the Frenchman in the Premiership clash on 3 September.

When asked about the spitting incident, Ruddock had said: "Vieira missed but was near enough for me to smell the garlic on his breath." Arsenal had presented the video of that interview to the FA disciplinary commission - which handed Vieira a six-match ban and pounds 45,000 fine last week - as evidence that he had been provoked by Ruddock.

It led to reports that the FA was to throw the book at Ruddock for alleged racist remarks, although in reality those at Lancaster Gate were more concerned at what they saw as insulting behaviour by the former Liverpool man.

Now the FA insists that the matter is closed and are to take no formal action against Ruddock. Its media relations manager, Steve Double, said: "Neil Ruddock had a meeting with the Football Association this afternoon as regards comments made in a television interview. It was never the FA's contention that Neil Ruddock made racist remarks and we fully accept that he is not racist - as his many black friends in the game will testify. However, he was reminded of his responsibilities towards his fellow professionals and the matter is now closed."

The FA did, however, charge two non-League clubs, Bamber Bridge and St Albans City, with failing to control players and officials, following a mass pitch brawl during their FA Cup first round encounter on Saturday.

Gary Willard, of Worthing, has been removed from the National List of Referees by a review board consisting of representatives from the FA, the Premier League and the Football League.

The board came to a unanimous decision following an assessment of recent fitness tests. "This was not an easy decision to make but it is vital that we maintain the highest standards for our officials," Mike Lee, a Premier League spokesman, said.

Sheffield Wednesday have called off their pounds 2.75m deal with Leicester City for the striker Andy Booth after failing to reach a financial agreement with the Filbert Street club. The City manager, Martin O'Neill, had agreed the club record fee with Wednesday over a week ago, but has since failed to finalise details surrounding payment of the cash. The Owls are understood to have wanted the entire fee up front to ease their financial crisis, while Leicester were believed to have preferred an instalment method.

Derby County have had a pounds 3m bid for the Bolton Wanderers striker, Eidur Gudjohnsen, turned down. The Rams' move for the Iceland international was rejected by the First Division club because it fell well short of their valuation of the player.

Derby could have to wait three weeks for a work permit for Georgi Kinkladze to come through. The former Manchester City midfielder has not played enough games for Ajax in the last year to qualify for a permit but the club are hoping they can persuade the authorities to overlook that. He is in a similar situation to Juninho, who was eventually given permission to join Middlesbrough from Atletico Madrid.

Nottingham Forest said yesterday that proceedings had been issued in the High Court following opposition to a takeover of the First Division club.

Shareholders in the holding company which owns the club voted in July to accept an offer for the sale of 41 per cent of the subsidiary for pounds 6m. The offer from the venture capitalist Nigel Doughty was opposed by the former directors Irving Scholar and Julian Markham, who quit shortly after the vote.

Scholar and Markham wanted Doughty to buy the holding company itself, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market with the club as its only asset.

Nottingham Forest said the court action had been brought against the company, the club and its individual directors by two companies in which Markham and Scholar were shareholders.

"The company and the other respondents, together with their advisers, are reviewing the terms of the petition which will be vigorously defended," the club said.

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