Managers quick to defend Coppell

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The Independent Online
The League Managers' Association yesterday leapt to the defence of Steve Coppell as critics called for him to resign from the Premier League Commission of Inquiry into transfer payments.

Coppell, the former Crystal Palace manager who is part of the three-man panel investigating allegations of "bungs" in transfer deals, has come in for fierce criticism for comments about the Arsenal manager, George Graham, who faced the inquiry last week.

Arsenal yesterday pronounced themselves "extremely disturbed" by the comments, which they said prejudged the outcome of the inquiry, which is probing allegations that Graham took a £285,000 "bung" during the signing of the Danish midfielder, John Jensen .

esh Coppell was backed by the Premier League chief executive, Rick Parry, who, with QC Robert Reid, makes up the Commission. It was also confirmed there would be no change in the make-up of the investigating body.

Coppell, the chief executive of the LMA, was yesterday backed by that body's chairman, Howard Wilkinson. The Leeds manager said: "Let's make it perfectly clear he was not speaking as a member of the Commission when he made the alleged comment.

"The Commission hadn't sat and Steve hadn't even seen the documents. What he said was that, if the facts were as stated in the media, it would appear to be an open-and-shut case - with the emphasis on the `if'.

"Steve's comments reflected a hypothetical outcome to a hypothetical question. It's the task of the commission to establish what's fact and what's fiction. It will do that more efficiently if Steve provides a manager's input."

The Commission will not be sitting again until after Christmas.