Football: Stevenage determined to resist Magpies' switch pitch

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The Independent Online
The Stevenage chairman, Victor Green, has promised to keep on fighting for the right to stage the club's fourth-round FA Cup tie with Newcastle at home. Newcastle yesterday launched an appeal with the Football Association to try to get the tie switched to St James' Park.

The Premiership club feels that the Vauxhall Conference club's Broadhall Way ground is not big enough to hold such a tie, despite Stevenage putting in extra seating to raise the capacity from 6,600 to 8,000.

Representatives from the Magpies visited Stevenage early yesterday to inspect the ground and then had a meeting with the local council to voice their concerns over safety issues.

They now have to decide whether to continue the appeal, but Green is adamant that Stevenage will host the tie on Sunday 25 January.

He said: "I get the feeling, rightly or wrongly, that they're going to say the ground is not big enough to stage a game of the magnitude of us playing Newcastle. But as far as I am concerned the game will go ahead here because we want it to."

If the game is staged at Stevenage it will be shown live on Sky Television, with a 4.30pm kick-off time. Television rights from the tie should net Stevenage around pounds 150,000, thought to be one of the key factors in not switching the tie to St James' Park.

Swindon, Stevenage's victims last Saturday, have put eight players on the transfer list following their FA Cup defeat by the non-League side. The Swindon manager, Steve McMahon, has handed free transfers to defenders Gary Elkins, Phil King and Frederic Darras, but wants a fee for Jason Drysdale.

"The club has got to take a hard-line view and if any other players don't give me 100 per cent then they will also be on their way," McMahon said.

Ron Atkinson wants a second look at Hamburg's Polish centre-back Pavel Wojtala before pushing through a pounds 2m move to Sheffield Wednesday. Atkinson was impressed by Wojtala when he played for Wednesday's reserves, but wants to see him against better opposition.

Milan, whose Liberian striker George Weah is out for two months, have made an offer to Marseilles for Fabrizio Ravanelli, proposing a player plus cash exchange for the former Middlesbrough striker.

Sunderland have signed the former England Under-18 goalkeeper, Luke Weaver, from Leyton Orient for an initial fee of pounds 250,000, rising to pounds 800,000 depending on appearances.