The suspended Queen's Park Rangers manager Jim Magilton will tell the club's chairman Gianni Paladini that he did not butt Akos Buzsaky and that the two men instead went head-to-head – touching their foreheads – in a confrontation after the defeat at Watford on Monday night.
As the fallout from Magilton's row with his midfielder Buzsaky unfolded yesterday, sources at the club said that they believed the Rangers hierarchy were using the incident to sack Magilton, whose team have won only once in their last seven games. The Championship club were in disarray yesterday morning when Magilton's two assistants John Gorman and Keith Ryan refused to take training and walked out in support of the manager.
The former Northern Ireland midfielder was suspended after Buzsaky's Hungarian representatives visited Paladini on Tuesday and told him that his player was considering pressing assault charges against Magilton. A club source told The Independent: "He [Magilton] was passionate and aggressive but there was no physical contact. Afterwards the player [Buzsaky] ran out in a huff. He ran outside himself. It was nothing."
It is understood that Ryan helped separated the two men, not just the striker Patrick Agyemang, and that most players simply regarded it as the usual loss of temper that follows a bad defeat. Buzsaky was retrieved from the Watford kitman's room where he had gone to get warm and the team went back to London. Only the next day when a complaint was lodged did Magilton realise the severity of the implications for his own career.
It had been reported that Magilton butted Buzsaky when the player responded half-heartedly to a question during a post-match rant from the manager after the 3-1 defeat. This will be the crux of the case against Magilton who is adamant that he did not physically attack the 27-year-old winger.
The club announced yesterday that they would launch an "internal investigation" into Monday night's events although Magilton is now resigned to the fact that he has lost his job and will not be reinstated. The 40-year-old issued a robust statement through the League Managers' Association that signalled he would take the club to a tribunal, which could prove costly for Rangers if they cannot prove he attacked Buzsaky.
Magilton said: "While passions can run high in football, especially after a poor performance, I categorically deny any allegation of wrongdoing following Monday's fixture. I understand that the club has initiated an internal investigation, with which I will cooperate fully."
The mood among some at the club is that Paladini has been unhappy with Magilton after the 5-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough and the defeat to Watford have pushed Rangers off the pace in the Championship. Magilton is the fifth manager at the club since the takeover by a consortium including Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Lakshmi Mittal two years ago. It would be fair to say that little patience has been extended to any of Magilton's predecessors.
Paladini has put the under-18s coach Steve Gallen and academy manager Marc Bircham, both former players, in charge of the team.
Should Magilton be dismissed he will be able to take the club to a tribunal, which will make the final decision on whether he is eligible for a pay-out. Buzsaky yesterday went to the extent of denying that he had put in a transfer request as a result of the incident.
Stoke decline PFA mediation
Stoke City have declined an offer from the Professional Footballers' Association to help resolve the dispute between James Beattie and manager Tony Pulis saying the issue is now "water under the bridge".
The PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said yesterday: "We offered to help but the club said we were not needed, that it is water under the bridge.... These things have always happened in football when passions are inflamed but now the game is a goldfish bowl."
Beattie and Pulis came to blows in the dressing room after Saturday's defeat by Arsenal. The dispute centred on arrangements for the players' Christmas party.