Football: Stevenage hit out at `Big Brother' Magpies

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The Independent Online
Stevenage Borough have been given permission to stage their fourth- round FA Cup tie with Newcastle United at their Broadhall Way ground, and they are angry with the Magpies for trying to bully them into switching the game to Tyneside.

The Hertfordshire club's chairman, Victor Green, revealed that he had received a telephone call from Newcastle's director of football administration, Russell Cushing, before the venue for the tie was fixed.

"Our lovely day has been spoiled because we have had a telephone call from Cushing, who is putting a bit of Big Brother tactics on us," Green said. "He has informed me - not asked me - that he, together with his safety officer, is going to visit Broadhall Way, implying quite clearly that we are not competent in Hertfordshire to decide what is a safe ground.

"He has told me they are then going to put a formal objection in to the Football Association, and it is a little bit of an insult to the integrity of people in this county. They are dead scared of coming to play at Broadhall Way."

Stevenage will only be able to increase their capacity to 8,000, around 4,000 less than expected. They had hoped to install 6,000 temporary seats at their stadium, which currently holds 6,600 fans, but, after meetings with local authorities, that was ruled out.

It is the planned temporary accommodation which worries Newcastle. "We are only bothered about one consideration - safety," their manager, Kenny Dalglish, said. "That must be the paramount consideration above anything else."

Those unable to gain admission will be able to watch the game live on Sky Sports on Sunday 25 January (kick-off 4.30pm). Newcastle fans will be allotted 2,200 tickets for the all-ticket match, which could earn the GM Vauxhall Conference club around pounds 250,000, including pounds 150,000 in television fees - a major factor in deciding not to move the tie to the North-east.

Brighton and Hove Albion will not receive any profits from the property developers, Chartwell Lane, following the company's pounds 24m resale of the Sussex club's former home, the Goldstone Ground.

The Hove MP, Ivor Caplin, had led calls for Chartwell to donate pounds 1m from their profits to help Albion move back to the south coast from their temporary home at Gillingham. But Chartwell, who bought the Goldstone for pounds 7.4m and have since sold it on to Abbey Life Assurance, have said they "will not be making a financial contribution" to the Seagulls.

Middlesbrough and the Spanish club Tenerife have failed to reach agreement over a fee for the errant Brazilian midfielder, Emerson. The Riverside Stadium club want to recoup the fee of pounds 4m that they paid the Portuguese club Porto for Emerson in 1996.

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