Football: West Ham could face expulsion over cup substitute

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The Independent Online
HARRY REDKNAPP, the West Ham manager, was said to be "too upset to talk" last night after learning that Aston Villa are demanding re-entry into the Worthington Cup because the Hammers fielded an ineligible player in their quarter-final tie However, the club's secretary, Graham Mackrell, said he thought his club had won fairly and that the result should stand.

Emmanuel Omoyinmi came off the substitutes' bench late in extra-time during Wednesday's match at Upton Park, which West Ham won in a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw. They are now due to play Leicester or Fulham in the semi-finals.

However, Omoyinmi played for Gillingham in both legs of their second- round tie against Bolton and was cup-tied. Villa want, at the very least, to replay the game. Their secretary, Steve Stride, said: "We've lodged a complaint with the Football League. We're treating this as a serious breach of regulations. We trust the outcome will reflect the seriousness of the matter."

John Nagle, a Football League spokesman, confirmed that the matter was under investigation and that the two clubs would be consulted.

Mackrell said West Ham had believed Omoyinmi did not play for Gillingham in the cup. "West Ham United now acknowledge this was not the case but wish to emphasise that the club acted in good faith," he said. "Manny appeared for only six minutes against Aston Villa and had no influence on the result of the tie. West Ham United firmly believe that the tie was won fairly, that the result should stand."

Villa's manager, John Gregory, learned yesterday that the FA is to take no action over his "shoot the ref" comments towards the official Steve Lodge after Wednesday's match. Gregory made the remark after West Ham were awarded a last-minute penalty by Lodge, which enabled them to force the game into extra-time.

The Villa manager, currently serving a 28-day touchline ban for a previous outburst, was reported to have said: "I don't think we should have shoot- outs. We should have a shoot-the-ref shoot-out. After that one [the last- minute penalty], the referee should have been shot."

However, the FA is satisfied that the comments were made in jest and believes Gregory has no case to answer.

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