Football: Souness given five-game ban

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The Independent Online
GRAEME SOUNESS yesterday discovered the cost of his 'grossly insulting' attack on Rune Larsson, the referee involved in Liverpool's turbulent European Cup-Winners' Cup second round, first leg with Spartak Moscow last week. A Uefa disciplinary committee banned the Liverpool manager from the touchline for five games, beginning next Wednesday with the second leg at Anfield, when his team hope to overturn a 4-2 deficit.

Surprised at the severity of the sentence, Souness will tomorrow discuss with his directors the possibility of an appeal. 'I apologised to the referee immediately after the game, but obviously he felt it necessary to report me,' Souness said. 'We all have rules we have to live by, not just in football and I'll have to get on with it.'

Uefa was so alarmed by the nature of his remarks that it called a special meeting of its disciplinary committee in Berne. A spokesman, Gordon Savage, said: 'We received the referee's report and Mr Souness's words were very bad and insulting, so we have no option but to take strong measures in order to prevent similar action by other coaches. He should be an example to his team. I can't say what he actually said because it was so bad and it went on for so long.'

Should Liverpool be knocked out of the competition next week, the suspension would be carried over until Liverpool - or Souness - are next involved in European competition.

The Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar will be allowed on the touchline next week - but not on the pitch. He must serve a one- match ban after his sending-off six minutes from time in the Central Stadium for a professional foul on Dmitri Radchenko, which brought Spartak a third goal from a penalty.

It was that decision that so enraged Souness. He was caught by the television cameras remonstrating with the reserve official on the touchline and on the final whistle the coach, Ronnie Moran, repeatedly had to usher him away from the Swedish referee.

The Cambridge chairman, Reg Smart, has apologised to other clubs over claims of excessive gamesmanship during the reign of John Beck, who was sacked as manager last week.

Allegations have been made that visiting teams were given soggy footballs which had been left to soak in the bath, excessive amounts of sugar in their half- time tea and the electricity supply to their dressing-room was cut off.

'We are concerned about allegations of deliberately trying to upset opponents at the Abbey Stadium,' Smart said. 'My feelings are of shock and disbelief and neither myself nor my directors had any idea things like this were happening. We were always looked on as a friendly club.' Beck said the matter had been 'blown out of all proportion'.

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