Football: Yellow card count could cost Everton

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The Independent Online
EVERTON ARE facing a record fine of more than pounds 100,000 from the Football Association as they pay for their sins after clocking up a century of bookings. Walter Smith's team will face the authorities at the end of the season to explain a record of indiscipline that amounts to eight red cards and 100 yellows.

Everton are in trouble as they have ignored warnings about their behaviour. Even before this campaign's disciplinary transgressions, they were playing under the threat of a fine that will now be activated.

The FA told Everton they had to address the problem last summer, when they were given a pounds 50,000 suspended fine and told it would have to be paid unless there was a substantial improvement. However, Everton's behaviour has worsened.

Smith's two biggest offenders are Olivier Dacourt and Marco Materazzi, who both arrived this season and now top the league of shame. Dacourt's 14th booking means a second FA appearance, a four-game ban and a personal fine of around pounds 25,000.

Materazzi - three reds, 10 yellows - is now facing a three-game ban that will take him out of the vital closing matches against Chelsea, West Ham and Southampton.

In Materazzi's case his past has also caught up with him. The red card carries a one-game penalty, but two more are added on for his dismal record. Everton are to appeal over his latest dismissal, because they felt no contact was made with Coventry's Darren Huckerby for his second booking in Sunday's Premiership game.

Everton's Nick Barmby and Scott Gemmill will miss the game at Chelsea on 1 May after collecting their fifth bookings, although most of Gemmill's were picked up with Nottingham Forest.

The FA has given clubs the chance to resolve their own difficulties. Arsenal were threatened with a pounds 50,000 fine at the end of the 1996-97 season but escaped punishment as their record improved. Middlesbrough have collected the heaviest penalty to date. A pounds 25,000 suspended fine from the end of the 1995-96 campaign was activated when they re-offended the following season.

Chris Sutton may have kicked his last ball this season to deal struggling Blackburn's survival hopes a severe blow. The Rovers striker has been told to rest a groin injury to avoid the need for a hernia operation and it seems unlikely he will be able to play any further part in the relegation battle.

Sutton has been plagued by problems this season but the timing of this latest set-back is cruel for the Ewood Park manager, Brian Kidd. With the England Under-21 international Matt Jansen also recovering from a knee operation, it reduces his options drastically.

Brighton and Hove Albion yesterday confirmed the appointment of the former Fulham, Swansea and Brentford manager Micky Adams as their new manager. Adams, 37, becomes the Seagulls' seventh manager in the past five years. He replaces Jeff Wood, who was sacked last Friday, and has signed a four-year contract.

Adams, who steered Fulham to promotion from the Third Division two seasons ago, moves from Nottingham Forest, where he was reserve-team manager. His first game in charge will be against Shrewsbury at Brighton's temporary Gillingham home tonight.

Crystal Palace yesterday suffered another setback with the news that their sponsor, TDK, will ends its contract with the club. TDK, the manufacturer of video and audio tapes, have backed the Eagles for six years, but will not be renewing the company's support at the end of this season.

The Loughborough official Peter Jones has been appointed the referee for the last FA Cup final of the 20th century, between Newcastle United and the winners of tomorrow's replay between Manchester United and Arsenal. It will be the second major final that the 44-year-old Jones has officiated in at the national stadium within the past 12 months. He was in charge of the 1998 Coca-Cola Cup final between Chelsea and Middlesbrough.

The Manchester United full-back Denis Irwin will miss tomorrow's replay after he suffered a leg injury in Sunday's 0-0 draw. Phil Neville performed admirably when he came on for the Irishman and is expected to keep his place. The United manager, Alex Ferguson, admits he is contemplating other changes. "I could possibly make one or two changes," he said, "but Denis is the only one who is injured."