Rugby League: Amsterdam plan for O'Donnell

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DEWSBURY, the First Division club, are preparing to fly Australian forward David O'Donnell to Amsterdam and back in an effort to play him against Wigan in the Silk Cut Challenge Cup on Sunday.

The Yorkshire club have been refused a work permit for the former captain of Paris St Germain, but are hopeful of winning an appeal to the Department for Education and Employment this week.

If that comes through, Dewsbury will book him on an early morning return flight to the Dutch capital on Friday.

Bob McDermott, a Dewsbury official, explains: "You can't obtain a work permit for an overseas player while he is in the country so we have made provisional arrangements to fly him to Amsterdam and back on the same plane.We have made inquiries and we know we can get him on a flight early on Friday morning so he would be back for lunchtime."

Dewsbury expect a decision by tomorrow. Donnell was among a host of former Paris players refused permits because of an arrangement made with the Rugby Football League last year.

The Department allowed Paris's Australian contingent to see out the season on temporary visas, but warned that the matches would not count towards permits for 1998.

Meanwhile, Wigan have criticised Dewsbury's arrangements for Sunday's all-ticket fifth-round tie. The New Crown Flatt capacity was reduced by 1,000 to just 3,300 because of safety work needed on the four-year-old South Stand but Dewsbury say they will be able to accommodate an extra 500 spectators on grassy banks behind each set of posts - if the weather is fine.

Wigan, whose remaining allocation of 1,400 tickets was expected to be snapped up yesterday, are unhappy at leaving the situation in the lap of the gods. "We've asked the Rugby League to get involved,"the Wigan chairman, Mike Nolan, said. "I don't fancy selling tickets for behind the posts.

"Dewsbury have said it will be alright if the weather is fine but what if it rains? The match could be called off if spectators start tumbling down onto the pitch. It's like the dark ages. This is what Super League is up against."

Dewsbury had considered switching the tie to Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium or bringing in extra seating but were deterred by the cost.

McDermott said: "It's very difficult. Wigan asked us to switch it but it would have cost us a minimum of pounds 5,000 to stage it at the McAlpine and we would have had to pay pounds 10 plus VAT for each extra seat if we brought in temporary seating.

"We've also got to be fair to our spectators and our coach. Our pitch is very narrow compared to the McAlpine and that will be to our advantage."