Graham opens his defence

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The Independent Online
Football

PHIL SHAW

George Graham, dismissed as Arsenal manager in February after allegations that he accepted transfer "bungs", today begins the attempt to clear his name before a Association disciplinary commission.

Graham faces a misconduct charge relating to sums totalling pounds 425,000 that he was given by a Norwegian agent, Rune Hauge, in connection with the transfers of John Jensen and Pal Lydersen to Arsenal. The former Scottish international has always maintained that the so-called backhanders were unsolicited gifts, and points out that he handed the money back with interest.

After months of speculation, Arsenal sacked Graham in response to the damaging findings of a Premier League commission of inquiry. His solicitor described the three-man team as a "kangaroo court". Since then, during which time Graham was strongly linked with Manchester City's managerial vacancy, he has steadfastly maintained his innocence and now looks forward to putting his side of the story.

"Obviously I am confident that I will get the right result, otherwise I would never have pushed things this far and allowed things to drag on for so long," Graham told a Sunday newspaper.

The hearing, which is expected to last for at least three days, may not produce an outcome this week.

Even if it goes against him, Graham is likely to appeal, and has said that he would consider going to the European Court of Human Rights. The matter is further complicated by his claim against Arsenal for unfair dismissal.

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