SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Milan Mandaric supports push for fair play

Leicester gesture: Milan Mandaric was in charge of the Foxes when they allowed Forest to score
Leicester gesture: Milan Mandaric was in charge of the Foxes when they allowed Forest to score

MILAN Mandaric has told of his enthusiasm for sportsmanship after he and the other Football League chairmen voted for a fair-play initiative at their summer conference in Portugal.

It did not really need a formal vote to highlight the Owls chief’s beliefs, for he was in charge at Leicester when they figured in an extraordinary game against Forest in 2007.

Leicester player Clive Clarke suffered a heart attack at half time and the match was abandoned; Forest had been leading 1-0, so when the match was replayed the Foxes stood aside and allowed them to score.

“I am all for fair play,” says Mandaric. “After the player had a heart attack that time, we told the players to move away and let Nottingham Forest score, so the score was the same as before.

“Sportsmanship is a really important part of the beautiful game.”

The League say: “Clubs will undertake to instruct managers, coaches and players accordingly - in particular to discourage actions which bring the game’s reputation into disrepute, such as showing disrespect to match officials, and actions that undermine a sporting culture, including diving/simulation, time wasting and feigning injury.”

The League also want referees to support the initiative by cracking down harder on players who obstruct the quick taking of free-kicks and steal ground at throw-ins.

Owls boss Dave Jones deplores unsporting behaviour. “I wasn’t brought up that way,” he said. “It’s something that has crept in over the years.

“I’m all for players accepting their responsibilities about not play-acting. Forwards going down if they get touched in the box is nothing new, but it’s crazy when players try to get somebody booked or sent off - that should be stamped on.”

Mandaric says the League meeting was “very upbeat and positive”. Other issues to emerge from the get-together included the new sponsorship of the League Cup, which is now known as the Capital One Cup, and the move back to seven substitutes for League games.

“A lot of good things were talked about,” added the Wednesday chairman, “Having seven players on the bench will be a dream for the coaches. There was also an emphasis on clubs working more with the community, and rightly so.”

Wednesday have already made big strides in this direction, with their £7m plan for a community hub on Penistone Road.