DCSIMG

Leicester lauded for conceding 'free' goal

THE English Football League has offered congratulations to Leicester City after their gallant sportsmanship allowed Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Paul Smith to score in the opening seconds of the Carling Cup second round tie at the City Ground on Tuesday night.

Following the postponement of the original tie three weeks ago, new Leicester City manager Gary Megson instructed his team to deliberately concede the goal as a gesture to Forest who were leading that game 1-0.

The first match was abandoned at half-time after the collapse of Leicester City defender Clive Clarke in the visitors' dressing room. Clarke was treated with a defibrillator in the ground and was later discovered to have suffered a heart attack. Given the gravity of the situation and despite not being obliged to do so, Forest agreed to Leicester's request that the fixture be postponed.

In recognition of that, and responding to requests from the Leicester City squad that they restore Forest's one-goal advantage, Megson watched as his players stood aside to allow the Forest keeper to dribble uncontested towards the City box and score, high-fiving his Leicester counterpart as he did so.

Speaking after the match, Megson said: "We felt it was morally right for us to come here and start 1-0 behind in reacting to what went on three weeks ago. As a football club we felt it was the right way to behave and it was a gesture meant in the spirit of the game."

In deciding to restore Forest's advantage, Megson consulted Leicester City chairman Milan Mandaric as well as the Forest boss, Colin Calderwood, who was notified of Leicester's intentions 20 minutes before the game.

Calderwood nominated his keeper as the appropriate player to score the goal, given that it was unlikely he would be backed with bookmakers to be the first scorer. He described the goal as "an honourable gesture" and added that he hoped that "football had come out the winner".

Leicester's selfless act of sportsmanship was made easier to stomach for Megson as they fought back from the early disadvantage to beat Forest 3-2, thanks to late goals from Richard Stearman and Stephen Clemence. They now go on to play Aston Villa in the next round.

Chairman of the Football League, Lord Mawhinney, contacted Leicester City chief executive Tim Davies yesterday to express his admiration at the act of sportsmanship.

A spokesman for the Football League said: "Leicester's actions are a demonstration of football at its very best and they reflect very well on the game".

Despite this endorsement Leicester's decision provoked some initial concerns from bookmakers worried about the risk of improper betting. However, as details of the arrangement emerged such concerns evaporated with both Coral and Ladbrokes proclaiming themselves satisfied that the matter had been handled in the appropriate fashion by both managers.

William Hill and Coral both announced that, given the exceptional circumstances, they would honour bets made on a 3-1 and 3-2 final scoreline. In addition, both indicated their intention to pay out to those backing Alan Sheehan as the first goalscorer after the Leicester City defender scored in the 31st minute to level the tie.

Elsewhere, Ladbrokes advised that they too would pay out on Alan Sheehan but would only pay out on final score bets giving the actual score of 3-2.

Despite the selfless gesture, Megson was still booed by some sections of the Forest crowd following his disappointing stewardship at the City Ground. He spent a forgettable year at the helm of Forest which saw them relegated to League One in 2005.

GOOD SPORTS

February 1999: Arsenal offer to replay an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Sheffield United following Marc Overmars' controversial winner, when Kanu refused to return the ball after it was kicked out by United to allow treatment to one of their players. Arsenal won the rematch 2-0.

December 2000: West Ham's Paolo Di Canio spurned a goal scoring chance to allow treatment to prone Everton keeper Paul Gerrard. With the game at 1-1and in the dying minutes, Di Canio refused to knock a cross into the open goal, instead opting to catch the ball and call for treatment to Gerrard.

September 1969: On the final hole of the 1969 Ryder Cup at Birkdale, the teams were all-square as Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin reached the 18th green. Nicklaus generously conceded Jacklin's tricky two-foot putt forcing the first tie in the history of the event.

March 2003: In the fifth over of the world cup semi final between Australia and Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth, batsman Adam Gilchrist miscued a sweep off a delivery from Aravinda de Silva. The ball appeared to hit his bat and pad before being caught by Kumar Sangakkara. Amid wild celebrations from the Sri Lankans, umpire Rudi Koertzen declared him not out. Gilchrist stunned teammates by walking back to the pavilion, out for 22.

GOOD SPORTS

February 1999: Arsenal offer to replay an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Sheffield United following Marc Overmars' controversial winner, when Kanu refused to return the ball after it was kicked out by United to allow treatment to one of their players. Arsenal won the rematch 2-0.

December 2000: West Ham's Paolo Di Canio spurned a goal scoring chance to allow treatment to prone Everton keeper Paul Gerrard. With the game at 1-1and in the dying minutes, Di Canio refused to knock a cross into the open goal, instead opting to catch the ball and call for treatment to Gerrard.

September 1969: On the final hole of the 1969 Ryder Cup at Birkdale, the teams were all-square as Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin reached the 18th green. Nicklaus generously conceded Jacklin's tricky two-foot putt forcing the first tie in the history of the event.

March 2003: In the fifth over of the world cup semi final between Australia and Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth, batsman Adam Gilchrist miscued a sweep off a delivery from Aravinda de Silva. The ball appeared to hit his bat and pad before being caught by Kumar Sangakkara. Amid wild celebrations from the Sri Lankans, umpire Rudi Koertzen declared him not out. Gilchrist stunned teammates by walking back to the pavilion, out for 22.

 
 
 

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