Football: Scotland reject `joke' venue

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The Independent Online
Scotland yesterday rejected Estonia's idea of playing their World Cup rematch in Cyprus in February - and dismissed their alternative suggestion of the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan as a joke.

Jim Farry, the Scottish Football Association chief executive, believes a fair solution would be to play at a venue the equivalent distance to Tallinn - about a two-hour flight - and not make the Scots' supporters fly five and a half hours to Cyprus or even further to Azerbaijan.

"Somewhere around the equivalent would be a fair and equitable outcome," Farry said.

"We need a temperate climate at that time of year to ensure that the match progresses, so southern Europe would appear to be a more favoured spot: perhaps southern France, southern Italy, southern Spain or southern Portugal."

Asked about Azerbaijan as an alternative, Farry said: "I thought it might have been the first of April!"

Lennart Johansson, the Uefa president, supported the Scots. "Cyprus is too far away," he said, "but Azerbaijan is even further and that's ridiculous."

Gerry Francis was hoping to complete the pounds 2.3m signing of Steffen Iversen today. The Tottenham manager watched the 20-year-old Norwegian striker in action for Rosenborg Trondheim in the Champions' League last night.

Blackburn Rovers' hopes of poaching Roy Hodgson from Internazionale to become their new manager were finally ended yesterday when the English coach renewed his contract with the Milan club until 1999.

The 49-year-old Hodgson had earlier told Inter that Rovers - managerless since Ray Harford's resignation last month - had made an approach.

David Seaman could be out for a month after cracking his ribs in a collision with Manchester United's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last Saturday. The Arsenal goalkeeper is unlikely to be fit for Sunday's north London derby against Tottenham.

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