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Royle's historic charge

Joe Royle has been disciplined by the Football Association for calling the referee David Elleray a pterodactyl. The prehistoric reference landed the Everton manager a disrepute charge at the FA yesterday, writes Alan Nixon.

Elleray, a housemaster at Harrow School, knew exactly what Royle meant when he called him the name after the Blackburn game following the sending off of striker Duncan Ferguson. Pterodactyls were angular-headed dinosaurs, half-bird and half-beast.

Elleray took the comparison personally and Royle was found guilty of insulting language by the FA hearing. He was ordered to pay costs, estimated at more than pounds 1,000, and was warned about his future conduct.

Elleray claimed that Royle also swore at him, but the manager said he only used the word "pterodactyl".

Royle was furious. As he pointed out, the Arsenal striker Ian Wright has got away with calling a referee a "Muppet" in the past. Elleray had sent off Ferguson for insulting him in a more conventional manner when he refused a penalty claim.