Football: Tanner banned for three months

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The Ipswich Town manager George Burley last night promised to stand by his midfield player, Adam Tanner, after he was banned by the Football Association for three months for taking cocaine.

The 23-year-old became only the third English League player to test positive for cocaine after being asked to provide a random sample at the Ipswich training ground on 9 December.

After a two-and-a-half hour hearing at Lancaster Gate, during which Tanner made full admissions and said he had been "guilty of senseless and foolish behaviour", the three-man commission handed out a sentence which was regarded as lenient.

"Adam knows that he has done wrong, that he has let down himself, his family and the club and that if it happens again it will be the end of his football career," said Burley. "He made a very bad mistake and has to accept his punishment. But the expert evidence said that this was a one-off isolated incident in social circumstances."

Burley and the midfield player, Simon Milton, acted as character witnesses for Tanner, who admitted knowingly allowing his drink to be spiked with the Class A performance-enhancing drug in a nightclub.

Brendon Batson, the deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, stressed at the hearing that the PFA's campaign against drugs in football would continue. "Our position on drugs remains the same - they have no place in football," Batson said.

"We do not want to see any lads, whether junior or senior professionals, putting their careers and the good name of football on the line. Adam had a very good hearing. The decision taken suits the offence and now the lad has to go on to put things in order."

David Ginola has hinted he would relish a return to Paris St-Germain after losing his first-team place at Newcastle. Ginola has made only two starts in five matches under Kenny Dalglish. "As far as transfers are concerned, nothing is definite until the forms are signed," Ginola said. "But I'm disappointed when I see Paris's results and I've not forgotten the club where I had some magic times."

The Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson has added to his Brazilian contingent by signing Emerson's cousin, Fabio, on an 18-month contract after a trial. Fabio, a 24-year-old midfielder, holds a Portuguese passport so Middlesbrough have no work permit problems.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough fans yesterday delivered 18,500 signed postcards, including one from their former player Wilf Mannion, in a petition to the FA to try to overturn the three-point penalty following their failure to fulfil a Premiership fixture at Blackurn in December. Dave Roberts, who commentates for a local radio station, said: "You can fine the club and that will hit them hard but you're not punishing the fans at the same time, and that's the message the fans wanted to put across."

Mick Jones, the assistant to the sacked Plymouth Argyle manager Neil Warnock, has been put in caretaker charge of the Second Division club.

Bournemouth are to apply to the High Court to withdraw the receivers, called in last week by Lloyds Bank, who are owed pounds 2.1m of the club's 4.4m debt. Bournemouth's director Roy Pack claims the club has never been in default with interest or capital repayments - but Bournemouth's new Trust Committee believes Pack's stance is not in the club's best interests.

Brighton supporters have made it clear that Saturday's protest at the Goldstone Ground, involving fans from all over the country, will still go ahead despite a series of measures aimed at placating them.

Terry Venables is to hold a training camp in Europe to help prepare overseas- based Australian players for forthcoming World Cup qualifying matches. The former England manager plans to base the four-day coaching session in either Britain or the Netherlands.

Bobby Robson has received a vote of confidence from the Barcelona club board ahead of tomorrow's Spanish Cup tie with Real Madrid. The former England coach has also been backed by a group of fans who took out a newspaper advert asking for "respect, justice and support" for Robson.

However, Robson will be nervous to hear that the Ajax coach Louis van Gaal's negotiations to sign for a foreign club were "at an advanced stage" but he still felt it too early to name his new employer. "I have been linked to AC Milan, Barcelona, Newcastle United, Bayern Munich, you name it. I have to admit that list flatters me," he said.