Schmeichel wants to clear his name

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The Independent Online

A move by the Association to defuse the continuing feud between Peter Schmeichel and Ian Wright could be under threat following the news that the Manchester United goalkeeper is taking legal advice in a bid to clear his reputation of the racist allegations generated by the row.

The FA chief executive, Graham Kelly, revealed at the weekend that he was ready to act as peacemaker following last Wednesday's disgraceful scenes at Highbury when the Arsenal striker Wright confronted Schmeichel as they left the pitch following United's 2-1 win.

The war of words began when Schmeichel was alleged to have made a racist remark to Wright when the two teams met at Old Trafford in November, an incident which is still being investigated by the police, and boiled over again when Wright committed a two-footed challenge on the Dane in last week's equally explosive game.

Both the FA and Professional ers' Association have made bids to bring the two players together, although Kelly insisted that such a move would not free either man from the threat of disciplinary charges over the incident.

But the Old Trafford director and club solicitor, Maurice Watkin, confirmed yesterday: "Reports that Peter is taking legal advice are true. But other than to confirm that, I don't want to make any further comment on the matter at this stage."

Schmeichel clearly wants to clear his name, but his move towards legal redress could scupper the peace plan even though both United and Arsenal have not yet rejected the Lancaster Gate initiative.

Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, is reported to have said: "Obviously we are aware of the proposals for a meeting but this is a very delicate situation and we will follow the advice given to us."

His Arsenal counterpart, Arsene Wenger, said: "I think it is a very good idea and would encourage the FA in this."

However, with Schmeichel now exploring other avenues, the dispute could now be heading for the courtroom rather than the negotiating table.

n Jimmy Gabriel has ended his 37-year association with Everton as player, coach and caretaker manager. Gabriel, who won League and FA Cup medals during his 300 appearances for the club, is to leave Everton to pursue a coaching career in the United States.