Saints tell McGuire to stay at home to escape fans' wrath

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The Independent Online

The St Helens chief executive, Sean McGuire, has been told to stay away from the club during the furore over Ian Millward's sacking. The Saints coach was dismissed for gross misconduct this week, with many of their supporters blaming McGuire for his departure.

The St Helens chief executive, Sean McGuire, has been told to stay away from the club during the furore over Ian Millward's sacking. The Saints coach was dismissed for gross misconduct this week, with many of their supporters blaming McGuire for his departure.

The club's chairman, Eamonn McManus, says that McGuire has been the victim of "lies and malicious gossip" and has advised him to work from home rather than face the hostility of fans in the town.

"He's bearing up pretty badly," McManus admitted. "He's been badly affected by being singled out for some pretty rough treatment. I've advised him to stay away and get his mind together."

McManus has also denied the claim of Eric Ashton, one of the club's directors, that he had not been consulted over the suspension that led to Millward's eventual sacking.

"I did speak to Eric at the time we decided to suspend Ian and he didn't object to it," he said. "Some of the things he has said have been completely inaccurate."

Millward's appeal against his sacking - for three instances of using abusive language - is due to be heard this afternoon.

"He will be given an open and fair hearing," said McManus, who said that the club was prepared for the case to go to an employment tribunal or to court, where they have threatened to produce evidence of further alleged misconduct.

With intriguing timing, Millward and his legal advisers have called a press conference for noon today, before his appeal is due to be heard. The Rugby League is also due to announce its verdict on one of the charges that Saints levelled at Millward - that of swearing at the fourth official during the Easter Monday match against Bradford.

Until Millward's appeal to Saints against his sacking is completed, McManus has halted the club's search for a new coach. Applications which have already come in, however, include what McManus described as: "Half a dozen from top-class coaches and two or three which have really caught my eye. I know what they've done and I know the sort of people they are."

McManus said he would be giving the new coach the strongest possible recommendation that he should keep Millward's assistant, Dave Rotheram, on his staff.

Rotheram is acting as caretaker-coach, leading Saints into a Super League match for the first time at Hull tomorrow night, but does not expect to be considered as a permanent successor. "He will be part of the new set-up," McManus predicted.

Warrington have confirmed that they complained about Millward's language to one of their employees, but regarded the matter as closed once he apologised.

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