Football: Strachan made to pay penalty

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GORDON STRACHAN, the Coventry City manager, was yesterday fined pounds 1,000 plus costs and censured by a Football Association disciplinary commission for his part in a touchline fracas at Stamford Bridge in January.

Strachan, together with officials and players from the Sky Blues and Chelsea, were involved in an altercation which erupted in front of the two dug-outs during the FA Carling Premiership encounter on 16 January.

Strachan, who has a reputation for his fiery temper on the touchline, sought a personal hearing to answer a misconduct charge in front of the commission which was chaired by the acting chairman of the FA, Geoff Thompson.

The former Manchester United, Leeds and Scotland midfielder was also told that he must submit a written undertaking regarding his future conduct.

The Coventry striker Noel Whelan was fined pounds 750 plus costs and warned regarding his conduct for his part in the incident. To complete an unhappy day for Coventry, Whelan was also given a one-match suspension plus a pounds 1,000 fine by the commission after reaching the 11-bookings mark for the campaign. However, it was decided that Coventry's goalkeeping coach, Jim Blyth, had no case to answer regarding his part in the Stamford Bridge flare-up.

The Chelsea contingent involved in the fracas had their misconduct charges dealt with via correspondence by the commission.

The midfielder Mark Nicholls was fined pounds 750 and warned about his future conduct, while Chelsea's kit manager Aaron Lincoln and their masseur, Terry Byrne, were fined pounds 200 and pounds 250 respectively and warned regarding their future behaviour.

The match referee, Jeff Winter, also attended the two-hour hearing and the commission studied video evidence of the incident prior to the hearing.

The Everton midfielder, Olivier Dacourt, has been fined pounds 2,500 but has also been given an unexpected reprieve by the FA.

Dacourt feared a four-game ban when he went up before the disciplinary commission yesterday for reaching 14 bookings in a stormy campaign.

However, the FA only fined him and allowed him to carry on playing in Everton's remaining matches in their campaign against relegation.

Both Dacourt and his club were expecting the worst. The Frenchman was suspended when he reached 11 bookings recently and Everton feared he would receive an additional, heavier penalty.

Ray Graydon, the Walsall manager, is prepared to release the winger Jason Brissett following his third dismissal of the season, for striking an opponent at Preston during Tuesday's Second Division game.

"I spoke to the referee and will study the video before making my decision," Graydon said. "If he is guilty of an infringement, and deserved to be sent off, you can rest assured that either he will go or I will go."

Stoke City turned an operating loss of pounds 675,000 into a profit of pounds 1.7m during 1997-98, the Second Division club revealed yesterday, but they remain pounds 3.08m in debt. The sales of Andrew Griffin and Mike Sheron, to Newcastle and Queen's Park Rangers respectively, accounted for the surplus.