Football: Sugar hits back at Venables

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ALAN SUGAR, the Tottenham chairman, yesterday hit back at Terry Venables after the England manager warned that the international chances of Spurs players will soon suffer because of his ban from White Hart Lane.

Sugar sees Venables' words as the latest salvo in the war between the two which has raged since Sugar sacked Venables as Tottenham's chief executive in May last year.

'How low is Terry Venables prepared to stoop? I can accept him having a pop at me but now he is scraping the barrel by effectively having a go at our players,' Sugar said. 'It is like dragging innocent kids into a messy divorce. I find it despicable that, on the eve of a very important home game of the club he claims to love, he talks about the possibility of our players not being picked for England because he can't come to White Hart Lane.'

Venables said he made his comment 'with great reluctance' after it became clear that the Football Association cannot force Sugar to lift his ban on the England coach.

Venables said: 'I have tried until now to take the dispassionate view that, as far as players I knew so well were concerned, I could keep up to date with their performance levels by going to Tottenham's away games. But the longer this goes on the less true I see it to be.

'I will try not to let it affect my judgment, but the truth is that, if it comes to a toss-up between a Spurs lad I've not been able to watch properly and someone at another club, then any manager will lean towards the player he's seen more often and therefore knows more about.'

Yesterday Sugar replied: 'I am the one who is supposed to know nothing about football.

'Even I can understand that the best place to appraise a player's grit, determination and spirit is when he is playing away.

'Venables says that he has been trying to evaluate Spurs' performances at away games. I have been to every away game and have not seen hide nor hair of him at all.

'Two weeks ago, in a national TV interview, he said he had no problem with not going to White Hart Lane and that it was not affecting his job. I wish he would make up his mind.'