IGOR STIMAC, the Croatian defender who has been instrumental in Derby County's drive for First Division promotion, was accused of uttering a string of racist taunts at Southend striker Dave Regis during the Rams' 2-1 win at Roots Hall which took them five points clear at the top.
Regis was sent off after an 88th-minute off-the-ball incident with Stimac. After the match, Ronnie Whelan, the Southend manager, said the dismissal "was sheer frustration. I am not saying Regis was right but if he was being constantly abused, as he insists, his reaction to the provocation is understandable."
Stimac denied making racist remarks, cryptically adding: "I came to this country to play football, not to be a kick-boxer." It took the gloss off a win all the more important as second-placed Charlton were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Sheffield United.
Bad blood at Leicester, too. Fans invaded the pitch after the 1-1 draw with Port Vale. The protest continued for over an hour outside the ground, with doors and windows damaged.
Manager Martin O'Neill, still without a win after 10 weeks in charge, said: "I know the fans are unhappy about Steve Corica leaving for Wolves, but he demanded to go within 10 days of me arriving here - what can I do? They're demonstrating because the board is not spending money but only three sides in the division have spent phenomenal amounts of money this season - Wolves, Birmingham and us."
Transfers and Birmingham City are of course synonymous. Small surprise then that the Stoke striker Paul Peschisolido will return to Brum for pounds 1m to replace Steve Claridge, who is en route to Leicester, which might just becalm Disgruntled of Filbert Street.
First Division managers' terms and conditions have been parlous this season. So spare a thought for Watford's Glenn Roeder. Bottom of the section, his stingless Hornets were beaten 4-0 at Selhurst Park by Crystal Palace, oozing venom under new manager, Dave Bassett.
In Scotland, Third Division giantkillers Caledonian Thistle were rewarded for their Tennent's Cup fourth round win over Stenhousemuir with a home quarter-final tie against Rangers.
After a week of managerial and boardroom turmoil, Swansea City will have been relieved by yesterday's relatively quiet goalless draw with Hull, the only club beneath them in the Second Division.
For the true gauge of how poor a basement side can be, look to Torquay, bottom of the entire League. Hartlepool, down to nine men after only 32 minutes - Shane Reddish and Steven Howard had been sent off - still held the Gulls to a 0-0 draw.
David Elleray, Dermot Gallagher and Scotland's Leslie Mottram have been included on the provisional panel of referees for this summer's European Championship finals.Reuse content