Football; Venables welcome

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The Independent Online
Alan Sugar has put aside his personal dislike of the England coach, Terry Venables, for the good of the country and granted him access again to White Hart Lane.

The Tottenham chairman yesterday decided to lift his ban on Venables, with whom he is involved in litigation, after a personal plea from Sir Bert Millichip, the chairman of the Football Association, for the two men to settle their differences. They have been feuding since May, 1993 when Sugar effectively dismissed Venables as the club's chief executive.

Explaining his reasons (which may endear him more to the footballing public), Sugar said: "I must put my personal considerations to one side in order to get behind England's bid to win the championship and so restore itself to the front line of world football.

"I will giving instructions to the ground staff that Mr Venables should be given the courtesy and welcome appropriate to the England coach."

He added, somewhat unnecessarily given Venables' relationship with Spurs' supporters: "We will be asking our fans to accord him the same courtesy when he makes his first visit."

There is no suggestion just yet that the pair have decided to bury their hatchets on the legal front, but this could be a start to ending their dispute. Sugar, though, was still expressing a loathing yesterday for his former partner.

"I have always maintained that while he attacked me with outrageous defamatory remarks and continues to harm the club with the cost of legal actions that he has brought, I was damned if I was going to allow him inside the ground again.

"I still feel that way, not least because with recent publication of the paperback edition of his autobiography he has, in effect, renewed his defamatory remarks on me.

"But watching England play last week has highlighted for me another factor in the equation. We are now nine months away from the day when England hosts the European Championships. The last time we hosted an international football tournament, back in 1966, England took the title.

"As chairman of Tottenham, I must play my part in helping England win Euro '96. If allowing Terry Venables access to White Hart Lane helps the cause, even in a small way, then I have a duty to allow him in."

The decision was "warmly welcomed" last night by the FA.

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