Q & A : When home is truly sweet

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The Independent Online
Q Before yesterday, it was more than 12 games and 1,100 minutes since Manchester United last conceded a league goal at home. Is this a record?

A. Although hardly on a par with Manchester United, Billingham Synthonia completed their home league programme in the Northern League season 1950-51 without conceding a goal.

Playing a total of 13 games Billingham won 12 and drew one, scoring 44 goals. In their final home game against Bishop Auckland their opponents were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes but Billingham's 'keeper saved the spot kick to preserve a unique record.

However, despite an almost perfect home record Billingham had to be satisfied with the runners-up spot. Bishop Auckland won the championship. - P Morgan, Thornaby

Q. What are the rules, or guidance, in the disciplinary points system in football. Where can one obtain full details?

A. The showing of a yellow card followed by a red is to make it obvious that "the player is being sent off for a second cautionable offence and not for an offence requiring immediate expulsion". Therefore if a second yellow card is shown the red card must always be shown.

If the second offence is one requiring dismissal (foul and abusive language violent conduct or serious foul play) then only the red card is shown.

There is no punishment for a single caution in a game (bar administration costs) but two in a game are punished with 21 days suspension and a £10 fine (as are foul and abusive language, serious foul play receiving cautions in a season and attempting to kick or strike).

A "professional foul" incurs seven days suspension plus £10 fine. Every additional three cautions after the first five bring 14 days' suspension and a £10 fine. Foul and abusive language directed at a match official and kicking or striking an opponent are punished by 35 days and a £20 fine. Other offences, such as attempting head to head butting, head to body butting, spitting, etc, refusing to give the referee your name or giving a false name and/or refusing to leave the field when ordered to do so, are punished by 42 days plus £20 fine.Threatening match officials (84 days plus £35 fine), head to head butting (84 days and £50 fine) and for causing the match to be abandoned (91 days and £60 fine) are three of the most severe punishments.

Assaults on match officials range from 112 days suspension and £100 fine (technical assaults) to permanent suspension (prosecution may also occur)

These figures are taken from the Football Association Handbook and are only a recommended guide and each individual case should be dealt with on its own merits.

Professional players have no right to appeal and have fixed number of match suspensions. They are, therefore, often suspended for much shorter periods but are often very heavily fined by their clubs. More information is available from your local or the English FA (16 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3LW) - Gareth Wynn, Abingdon

Q. Is a ringside seat at a top boxing event in the UK the most expensive sport to watch? Which is the cheapest?

A. I believe that the cheapest sports to watch in the UK are those which take place on the streets such as top class cycling (remember that Tour de France has had stages here) and events like the London Marathon. People can watch them free of charge owing to the impracticality of trying to impose payments everywhere en route.

Incidentally, it has been known for people to watch cricket matches from a home vantage point and thus also without paying. I remember when Warwickshire used to play at Nuneaton, and one of the boundaries backed on to a group of houses. Residents could thus enjoy a bonus of living there, one now sadly denied them.

As for the dearest sport to view, I suppose it depends what you mean, i.e. does one include the likes of executive boxes?

But I seem to remember being amazed at the high prices imposed for the British Grand Prix (motor racing not cycling). - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby


Q. What is route laid down by the F.A. for a non league club to achieve league status? Having achieved that-what are the next criteria required? Kevin Maguire, Batley Q. Is it true that that at one time there was a referee of world championship table tennis matches who was blind but had enhanced powers of hearing. If so is this unique in the sporting world? - Jeff Francis, Swansea

Q. Apart from Steve Archibald at Barcelona and Mo Johnston at Nantes are there any other examples of Scottish players playing on the continent? I vaguely recall John Hewitt going to, I believe, Switzerland. Are there any others? Ian Cusack, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Q. Can any reader tell me where and when did the world's first penalty shoot-out take place? - Henry Middleton, Oxford

If you know the answers to any of these questions, or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to: Q&A Sports Desk Independent on Sunday 1 Canada Square Canary Wharf London E14 5DL Fax: 071-293 2043