Rovers facing damages claim: Football

Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers are heading for a legal battle over a claim for compensation from Ben Thornley.

The winger is taking legal action against the Rovers centre-half Nicky Marker for a tackle that put him out of the game for over a year. Thornley and United's solicitor, Maurice Watkins, have started proceedings for a civil case seeking payment for loss of earnings.

Thornley and his legal advisers have been in contact with several potential witnesses to the incident, which happened in a reserve fixture three years ago when Marker caught Thornley on the knee with a tackle.

Since the injury, Thornley has battled back to fitness but has been unable to break into the first team and has spent loan spells at Stockport and Huddersfield, who were recently prepared to buy him.

Bobby Gould yesterday apologised to Welsh striker Nathan Blake in football's latest racism row.

Blake was upset by the Wales manager's description of the Dutch striker Pierre Van Hooijdonk during a post-match dressing-room discussion in the wake of Wales' defeat against the Netherlands in October. He also alleges that Gould made him wear a black bib during training.

Gould insists he is not a racist but after intervention by the Professional Footballers' Association, he has apologised to Blake, both in front of the full Welsh squad and in private.

A rescue package which could save Bournemouth is unlikely to be opposed by the Football League. A pounds 1.8m takeover by a community-funded appeal has been agreed in principle by major creditors Lloyds Bank.

The new rescue package, helping to make the Second Division side the first community-owned club in Europe, was set up to save the club from closure after receivers were called in.

Terry Venables is unlikely to face any action from the Football League over the involvement of Eddie Ashby, his financial advisor, at Portsmouth.

David Dent, the League secretary, has written to Venables asking for an explanation of Ashby's duties following comments made by director Vic Jenner when he resigned this week.

Ashby, banned for seven years from acting as a director by the DTI after a string of failed businesses, has no official title at the club, although he is apparently in charge of the day-to-day running of the club that Venables bought for pounds 1 last year.

"We are making immediate inquiries into the position," Dent said, added that the League is seeking clarification of the management structure at Fratton Park following a statement made by Jenner on Monday which said: "There are certain individuals in the club taking responsibilities which they should not be given."

The Southend defender Leo Roget has had his sending-off against Oxford 11 days ago quashed by the Football Association. Roget was cleared after the FA studied video evidence of the match and agreed with the club that he had been the victim of mistaken identity.

The Surrey referee Steve Bennett showed Roget the red card for an alleged second bookable offence, when the culprit was striker Jeroen Boere.

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