Parma risk points loss after row

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The Independent Online

Overmach Parma are refusing to travel for today's re-arranged Parker Pen Shield tie with Pontypridd because they believe the match should not be held at Gloucester's Kingsholm.

After the original tie, scheduled for Sunday in Parma, was postponed twice due to a frozen pitch, competition governing body European Rugby Cup announced the crucial Pool C match was to be switched to Gloucester. Parma claim it is their responsibility to decide on an alternate venue and are refusing to travel to England, citing unfair treatment and a lack of time.

A club spokesman, Corradi Vicci sad: "The match is supposed to either be played in Parma or in a stadium that Parma chooses.We are not travelling to Gloucester because we feel the ERC are incorrect.

"We gave them two alternatives – one is the Livorno Stadium and the other is the Viedana Stadium. We have been in contact with the ERC this week. We sent a fax to the ERC telling them what the situation was yesterday and we haven't received an answer.

"Why should we spend the money travelling to Gloucester when it is our decision where the game should be played?"

The ERC, however, insist Parma have not officially pulled out of the match, but warned they could face a points deduction if they do. The pokesman Dermot Murphy said: "The ERC decision to reschedule the game for tomorrow evening remains the same.

"They have not officially pulled out of the match. I stress that I have not been in touch with Parma myself but should they not turn up then it would be an issue for the disciplinary officer. In the past, under other circumstances, points have been deducted."

In a letter to the ERC chief executive, Dereck McGrath, Parma's own chief executive, Luigi Capitanoi, outlined his surprise at the governing body's actions. "I have received with great surprise the letter from Ivan Cebenka saying that the new venue for Thursday's match is Gloucester," he wrote. "I have to tell you that it's impossible for us to organise that journey at such short notice.

"I ask you to consider the Livorno stadium as the alternative venue for the match. This is as an alternative to the original stadium in Parma. If we cannot play at Livorno we could play in Parma at 7.30 in the evening. I think you should consider with great attention these options.

"You should also deny the rumours that have been circulating in Italian and French newspapers that the organisation are trying to do everything possible to create problems in order to be in favour of the Welsh and English teams."

And Vicci yesterday not only promised that Parma would pursue legal advice unless the situation was resolved but threatened to withdraw from the competition altogether. He said: "Our legal team is going to look into opening an inquiry into what has happened. If it gets to the point where the ERC do not recognise the fact that it was Parma's choice, we will not travel to Leeds and will abandon the European competition. Furthermore we will be taking legal action."

* Sale produced a rousing final 20 minutes to beat the French side Narbonne last night. They eventually ran out 41-16 winners after the scores were tied after 60 minutes in the Parker Pen Shield Pool 4 match. England's Charlie Hodgson scored 21 points.

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