Gascoigne may face police probe

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The Independent Online
Barely a week after the release of the Everton striker, Duncan Ferguson, from Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison after serving a sentence for an on-field assault, two more top Scottish footballers are facing possible court action by police.

Alan McLaren, of Rangers, and the Aberdeen striker, Billy Dodds, yesterday learned that will be they will be the subject of police enquiries after appearing before a Scottish Football Association disciplinary committee to account for their actions in the turbulent Scottish League game between the two clubs on 11 November. Two more Rangers players, Paul Gascoigne and John Brown, were given one-match suspensions on the strength of a referee supervisor's report - but it is not yet clear if they have escaped police action.

The Ibrox club accepted the decisions on Gascoigne and Brown, but joined the Scottish players' union in warning the SFA that it is endangering referees' authority.

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police would only confirm that a number of Rangers and Aberdeen players have been interviewed. "Police inquiries into the match are ongoing. Several players from both clubs have been interviewed - some under caution, some not. A full report will be forwarded to the Procurator Fiscal in due course." She explained the term "under caution" means the person concerned was informed of their legal rights and that their statements may be used in evidence against them.

The SFA said: "The matters regarding Dodds and McLaren are to be deferred at the players' special request," after a hearing which lasted more than five hours. Gascoigne, Brown, McLaren and Dodds, like Ferguson in April 1994, escaped action by the match official, John Rowbotham of Kirkcaldy, but were cited by the supervisor, Don McVicar.

Tony Higgins, the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association secretary, who represented the players at the hearing, said: "McLaren and Dodds have both been cautioned by police, so any decision on them was deferred until police investigations are exhausted. I believe the police interest only came to light in the last 24 hours."

Gascoigne is available for Rangers' visit to Hearts tomorrow but will then be out for two matches. He serves a one-match automatic suspension against Partick on 9 December and, due to yesterday's events, will also miss the game at Motherwell on 19 December.