Sending-off costs one referee dearly

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Given that referees tend not to be held in great affection by football supporters, it was hardly surprising that the words on the Highfield Road public address on Saturday attracted a wave of indifference.

The announcement that Dermot Gallagher was unable to take charge of Coventry's match against Nottingham Forest, with Alan Wilkie standing in, passed with barely a response. But Gallagher, sidelined with an injury that will necessitate similar announcements for the next two months, deserves sympathy.

Refereeing France against Bulgaria during Euro 96, the Banbury official had to leave the field after suffering a calf injury. Unlike a player similarly struck down, however, Gallagher was allowed no immediate treatment, being asked to stay by the field to supervise substitutions in place of the now-occupied reserve official - which is rather like asking an injured centre-forward to take over as sponge man. Gallagher aggravated the strain as a result and the assignments he will miss could cost him up to pounds 3,500 in lost match fees.

n As the explosion of televised football continues, scattering oodles of cash in its wake, it seems players are not the only targets in the market place. The Sunday Mirror yesterday reported that Sky are lining up a bid to tempt top BBC commentator John Motson to switch to the satellite channel. And the News of the World claim that ITV, having already lost Alan Parry to Sky, has offered Brian Moore pounds 15,000-a-match to ensure he stays on as their Champions' League figurehead.