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SUGAR VE DAY.

ALAN SUGAR won a major victory for Spurs and English football here yesterday - and killed off the threat that Gerry Francis would quit White Hart Lane.

The Spurs chairman took just 10 minutes to persuade UEFA to scrap European bans on his club and Wimbledon.

Spurs stand third in the Premiership and facing Wolves in the fourth round of the FA Cup today - and Francis will demand extra efforts from his players to make sure the opportunity of playing in Europe next year is not squandered. Francis had voiced his frustrations when UEFA hit Spurs and Wimbledon with a one-year ban for fielding weakened teams in last summer's Intertoto competition.

UEFA's five-man board of appeal were quick to overturn that decision yesterday.

But they did impose hefty fines and costs that amount to more than pounds 200,000 for both Spurs and Wimbledon. This burden will be met by the Premier League.

And English football has also lost a UEFA Cup slot because of the bust- up. The FA has admitted it will have to 'beg' Euro chiefs to win it back. Premier League chief executive Rick Parry said last night: "We will ask graciously and politely for UEFA to reconsider this. In fact, we will go down on bended knees to their executive committee."

At yesterday's hearing Sugar claimed that the Premier League and the FA had sanctioned Spurs and the Dons right to play below strength sides in the heavily-criticised Intertoto Cup.

Sugar and Ned Hammam, brother of the Wimbledon owner Sam, wanted not guilty verdicts, lifting any stain on their club's records.

Exonerated

Sugar was still concerned that the guilty verdict "will remain in the UEFA archives". He explained: "We've taken the rap for a gross misunderstanding that went on.

"But the chairman of the appeals board felt that Tottenham and Wimbledon acted in the wrong way, so we have not been completely exonerated.

"A lot of people at Tottenham and the FA have worked very hard. It was midnight oil stuff. It's a great relief to the club, players and manager to have the ban lifted."

Sam Hammam said: "In reality there is no fine at all, it's a diplomatic fine. The whole thing is a victory for common sense and English football."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Harris, Harry
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 27, 1996
Words:377
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