England call up new striker - then debate sending him home again

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Having dismissed one striker from the England squad to play Denmark in Manchester tomorrow after discovering he was on police bail, the Football Association came close to sending his replacement home last night, having realised he was serving a drink-driving ban.

James Beattie, the Southampton striker, was chosen to replace Alan Smith when Smith was sent back to Leeds on Wednesday after being arrested and bailed by police that lunchtime for allegedly throwing a bottle into the crowd during a match. Beattie received the call-up from Sven Goran Eriksson yesterday morning. But, as he was being driven to join the squad, Mark Palios, the FA's chief executive, was informed by the media that Beattie was 14 months into a 30-month ban, having being found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. Mr Palios began immediate consultations with senior FA officials and committee members. Making the distinction that Beattie's case had been dealt with by the courts, while Smith's had not, they decided that Beattie would remain.

Mr Palios, who was appointed in July this year, has ordered a review of the internal procedures which led to the Smith/Beattie fiasco. "We have not been smart in terms of communication," admitted Mr Palios.

Smith was dismissed as it was felt "inappropriate" for a player to wear an England shirt while on police bail. However, unlike Beattie he had not even been charged, let alone convicted. "Alan Smith has been humiliated," said Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association. "The England team is like the hokey-cokey, you're in, then you're out. They are testing the limits of the players - you would not treat a dog like this."

Comments