The Sweeper: Power-crazed world of David Elleray

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The Independent Online
IS REFEREE David Elleray the most influential man in English football? No sooner did he advocate the introduction of the sin-bin to replace the yellow card than the football authorities considered recommending such a change to Fifa, the game's world governing body.

"Perhaps we can, once and for all, remove the ridiculous situation of a player receiving a card in one game and missing a match several weeks later," Elleray wrote in an introductory article to this year's Rothmans Football Yearbook.

The Football League confirmed yesterday that it is looking at the issue. "We're conducting a full review of the disciplinary process - including sin- bins, colour coded cards and the 10-yard rule - and it will be put to Fifa's international board when they meet in London in February," a spokesman said.

Well done, Mr Elleray. Now how about advocating that Manchester United return to the FA Cup?

ONCE A man of the people, always a man of the people. At least that's what we thought about Manchester United's Govan-reared, Labour-supporting, proletarian manager until we asked how he wanted to be referred to (when written about) following his knighthood. "We would advise you to refer to the Manager as Sir Alex, or, in more formal context, Sir Alex Ferguson CBE," said a fax sent to The Independent by United. "If you've got a title you might as well flaunt it," one Old Trafford insider said.

AT LEAST another Old Trafford knight is still down-to-earth enough to share a few insights of the world of the treble winners without airs and graces. "I'll tell you the funniest thing about the European Cup final," Sir Bobby Charlton was recently overheard telling a couple of fans who'd asked how he'd enjoyed May's success in Barcelona.

"A couple of minutes before the final whistle, Lennart Johannson, the head of Uefa, walked all the way down the stand to get ready to present the trophy to Bayern Munich," Sir Bobby said.

Holding his hands at his side to demonstrate a substantial girth, Sir Bobby continued: "He's not a small man, and when he got to the bottom, someone told him `You'll have to go back up and wait for half an hour. United have equalised.'

"So he turned around and puffed his way back up the steps. When he got to the top, someone said `Mr Johannson, you've got to turn round and go back again. United have scored again.'"

With a wry smile, Sir Bobby noted, with some aplomb: "He didn't even see the goals."

DOES ALAN HANSEN so despise the English that he cannot speak their name? A new range of BBC football videos, endorsed by the enigmatic Scot, has landed on The Sweeper's desk and the word "English" has curiously been omitted, despite the fact that the five-tape series consists of highlights of players over the years from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and overseas. "The Scottish", "The Irish", "The Welsh" and "The Foreign Legion" are the titles of four of the tapes. Why then, is the fifth - which includes footage of players such as Stanley Matthews, Jimmy Greaves and David Beckham - entitled "The Brits"? The Sweeper is still waiting for an answer from the Beeb.

OWN GOALS are always embarrassing, but the publishers of The Playfair Football Annual 1999-2000 will be reminded of theirs for the whole season. "The essential, most up-to-date pocket guide to the clubs, players and results" gushes the cover of the most recent edition of the publication. And the player featured prominently on the cover? Step forward Arsenal's former enfant terrible, Nicolas Anelka, who is as about likely to kick a ball for the Gunners this season as his former club's chairman, David Dein, is to say "You couldn't wish to meet a more dedicated pro than the young man we've just sold to Real."

YEOVIL TOWN of the Nationwide conference have been receiving assistance from a bunch of crooks. "We've had tremendous help from the Somerset Probation Service (SPO)," George Coggen, the supporters' group chairman, said. "People doing Community Service came down to Huish Park and really got stuck into the various painting jobs that had to be done." It must be doing some good. Yeovil stole a 1-0 win (and their first points of the season) against Kidderminster in midweek.

The Price Is Right

RUUD GULLIT and Jim Smith must go. Now. After the vastly underrated Gordon Strachan had taken his Coventry side to that famous fortress, Selhurst Park, and gained a plucky point (and the first leg of The Sweeper's draws treble) against Wimbledon, was it asking too much for Smith's Derby to contain Bryan Robson's Middlesbrough pensioners XI at home?

Evidently. And, as for Ruud Gullitt's multi-million international squad - your mission if you choose to take it: to gain a point down at The Dell. It wasn't exactly mission impossible was it? Or was it? It might as well have been the Nou Camp for all the nous the Magpies displayed on the south coast. But The Sweeper is no bad loser and, remembering last season's slow start, he still expects to be in profit by Christmas (that's this Christmas). Selectivity is the name of the game this weekend where's there are only three decent draw bets to be had. Southampton, playing really well at present, can gain a draw against Everton at Goodison Park. Watford and Bradford, both far from overwhelmed so far in the loftiest division, could also draw at Vicarage Road. Matches between Arsenal and Manchester United are always good bets to end honours even after 90 minutes.


pounds 3 treble with Ladbrokes: Everton to draw with Southampton (9- 4); Watford to draw with Bradford (9-4); and Arsenal to draw with Manchester Utd (11-5).

OPENING BANK: pounds 100.

CURRENT KITTY: pounds 81.

BALANCE: -pounds 19.