Rioch urges board to hold on to Wright

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Football

ADAM SZRETER

Bruce Rioch, the Arsenal manager, has recommended his board refuse Ian Wright's written demand to leave Highbury "for the time being".

"I tried to talk him out of it but he wanted to hand it in," Rioch said. "I'll be recommending to the board that, for the time being, they turn it down."

Rioch's counterpart at Chelsea, Glenn Hoddle, has reiterated that he is ready to sign Wright should Arsenal agree to the 32-year-old striker's request. The Stamford Bridge club have had one approach recjected for the former England man, valued at around pounds 3m. "I made an inquiry for Ian Wright and at the time it was a flat `no'," Hoddle said yesterday.

"Things have moved on from then, with Wright putting in a transfer request. The goal posts have changed and we have to wait and see how the Arsenal board reacts to that."

Faustino Asprilla could have three more games for Newcastle United before facing a Association disciplinary committee over his controversial clashes with Manchester City's Keith Curle.

The Premiership leaders yesterday formally asked for the 26-year-old Colombian to have a personal hearing to answer the two misconduct charges laid against him in the wake of the game on 24 February.

Television pictures showed Asprilla appearing to elbow the Manchester City captain in the face, and later apparently head-butting Curle. Clare Tomlinson, an FA spokeswoman, said: "We can confirm Newcastle have asked for a personal hearing for Faustino Asprilla. The date for that hearing will probably be in April and we believe the cases of both Asprilla and Keith Curle will be looked at together."

Asprilla's former colleagues in Italy's Serie A are to go on strike, starting this Sunday. The Italian Players' Association claims the authorities are disregarding its opinions and wants the abolition of transfer fees for players out of contract to be implemented at the end of the season. It is also demanding a limit on the number of players a club can field from outside the European Union.

Francis Lee yesterday confronted the drugs issue overshadowing Maine Road by threatening to dismiss any Manchester City player caught using illegal substances. The City chairman was speaking after his winger, Nicky Summerbee, and Manchester United's Lee Sharpe were linked with alleged drug taking by a Sunday newspaper, prompting the FA to request observations from both clubs.

After speaking to Summerbee, Lee stressed: "Nicky has given us assurances that the claims were total nonsense and as far as we are concerned the matter is closed. But if any player did step out of line, particularly when you are talking about drugs and things like that, he would never play for this club again." Manchester United have not commented on the story.

Gillingham and Fulham yesterday escaped with an official warning after an FA inquiry into their Third Division game on 25 November. The unruly match left one player with a broken leg, 10 men booked and two sent off - one by mistake. The referee Mike Bailey described the last 10 minutes of the match as "the most disgraceful exhibition by professional footballers I have ever had to witness."

Old Trafford will be the venue of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool or Leeds and Nottingham Forest or Aston Villa on 31 March, kick-off 4pm. After the quarter-final between Manchester United and South- ampton, Chelsea or Wimbledon will meet United at Villa Park or Southampton at Highbury.

Scunthorpe United, fifth from bottom of the Third Division, have parted company with their manager, Dave Moore. Mick Buxton, in charge of the club from 1987 to 1991, is to replace him until the end of the season.

The Swedish striker Niklas Gudmundsson, valued at pounds 1m, is set to join Blackburn on a permanent basis despite starting just one Premiership match during a three-month loan spell from Halmstads.

Pejic prompts Potters, page 25

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