Premier League managers face day of decisions

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The Independent Online
The Premiership inquiry panel was last night wrestling with the dilemma of how it can punish George Graham, now Arsenal have terminated his contract.

The inquiry team agree it is nonsensical that, as things stand at present, Graham is free to walk into another football job anywhere in the country. The three members of the panel - Rick Parry, the Premier League chief executive, Robert Reid QC, and Steve Coppell, the chief executive of the League Managers' Association - believe that a ban from the game is what is required, only there is nothing in their regulations to empower them to take that step.

That will change today, however, when a meeting of the 22 Premier League clubs votes on a proposal to introduce a new ruling that will prevent managers benefiting from transfer transactions.

Under a new code of conduct, managers must disclose to their club the nature and extent of any "direct or indirect" financial interest he may have in any transaction or arrangements involving his club.

After learning that their manager had indeed accepted money following the inquiry investigations, Arsenal decided to sack Graham. It is understood he received money from more than one transaction, and has paid back something in the region of £500,000 to the club. The directors decided unanimously that he had not acted in the best interests of the club.

The new rule for managers is part of a determination within the game to stamp out the sleaze factor and improve standards. The problem for the Premiership, and a point of interest for Graham's lawyers - he has vowed to "vigorously contest" his dismissal - is how to make any punishments work retrospectively.

The inquiry panel, which will announce its interim report today, could recommend to the Football Association that Graham be charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

However, there are powerful voices who say that would be difficult, because the very nature of Graham's "bung" from the Norwegian agent, Rune Hauge, who brokered John Jensen's transfer from Brndby in which Graham allegedly received £285,000, was made in secret. Clubs will vote today on new rules governing the registration and use of agents.

The registration of managerial contracts with the Premier League, which is due to be finally agreed today, will prevent them taking a new job when their existing club wants to keep them.

The Premier League are determined that managers must take the lead in improving standards of behaviour. Managers will be encouraged to ensure that a "fair and effective" disciplinary policy is in place at their club, and players will be told to accept and observe the authority and decisions of match officials.

They will be told not to make public any "unfair" criticism of match officials, or of managers or players with other clubs.

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