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Newcastle off hook over Cole.

SHAMED Newcastle directors Freddie Shepherd and Douglas Hall have escaped a rap from Manchester United AND the Football Association.

It's the one piece of good news for the disgraced pair in a week of humiliation.

Publication of the Toongate Tapes included claims that they conned Manchester United over the pounds 7million sale of Andy Cole, knowing that he needed an operation for a shin-splints problem.

But Old Trafford spokesman Ken Ramsden said: "We will not be making a complaint against Newcastle.

"We were happy with the Cole deal. He had a full medical and we also had access to his medical records at Newcastle."

And FA spokesman Steve Double confirmed last night that Shepherd and Hall were not facing censure or a probe by the soccer authorities.

They could have faced a charge of bringing the game into disrepute, but Double said: "We are not involved in this at all.

"We have not received a complaint from anywhere and there are no plans for an inquiry."

Cole's agent, Paul Stretford, described claims that Manchester United were conned as "nonsense".

He said: "Because of the amount of money involved, the medical Andy had was the most stringent I've been involved in."

However, a vastly experienced soccer physio claimed last night: "A medical wouldn't necessarily detect shin splints.

"Everyone in the game knew that Cole had this problem."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Hetherington, Paul
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 22, 1998
Words:226
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