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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Richard Hill Arrested...Ian Dowie Reportedly Sounded out for Managership

The Times - February 14, 2007
QPR coach arrested over on-pitch brawl with Chinese teamTom Dart
Richard Hill, the Queens Park Rangers assistant manager, has been arrested by police and suspended by the club for his part in the “Great Brawl of China” seven days ago and the position of John Gregory, the manager, is coming under increasing scrutiny.

Hill was photographed apparently punching Jiang Ning, of the China Olympic side, in a fight that broke out during a friendly match that took place at QPR’s training ground. Zheng Tao, the China defender, suffered a broken jaw. Police said that a 43-year-old man, understood to be Hill, was arrested three days after the incident on suspicion of actual bodily harm, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He was bailed to return to a West London police station pending further inquiries.

“Hillingdon Police are continuing to investigate a number of assaults following a disturbance amongst players at a match between QPR FC and the Chinese Olympic team,” a Metropolitan Police statement read. The statement revealed that as well as Tao, two other players were injured, raising the possibility that more charges will follow.

“Subsequent investigation has found a further two males suffering injuries,” the statement continued. “One with injuries amounting to ABH, the other suffering a fractured eye socket. All parties from both QPR and the Chinese team are assisting police.”

QPR said that Hill is suspended “until further notice.” Last week, Gianni Paladini, the chairman, said he would sack players or staff if found guilty of gross misconduct.

The FA are also investigating. “We are in close communication with the police, and we are awaiting confirmation of whether or not they will be taking any action. We will then consider whether to take any disciplinary action of our own,” an FA spokesman said.

The club approached Graham Bean, the former FA compliance officer, with a view to him helping to put their case in any disciplinary hearing. However, Bean, who now runs a consultancy firm called Football Factors, turned them down on the basis that the video of the brawl is too damning.

Hill was a striker for Watford, Oxford United and Northampton Town. He is a former Stevenage Borough manager, was a coach under John Gregory at Wycombe Wanderers and also coached at Tranmere Rovers, Reading, Gillingham and Northampton. He joined QPR last October, shortly after Gregory became manager. Hill’s agent could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ironically, Hill’s first act as Stevenage manager in 1999 was to release a player who had aimed a punch in a game. In another piece of irony, at the same time as Hill joined, QPR appointed Joe Dunbar, a former trainer of Lennox Lewis, the former world heavy-weight boxing champion, as Sports Performance Manager.

After the brawl, seven Chinese players were sent home and the China Football Association pledged a “strict” punishment. The rest of the team flies home this week.

Gregory, who took over at Loftus Road in September, was not involved in the brawl but it is understood that, after QPR lost 5-0 to Southend United on Friday, Iain Dowie, a former player and coach at the club, was sounded out about taking charge. But Dowie is not short of options after leaving Charlton Athletic last year and was not interested. Gregory’s contract ends in the summer. QPR are in relegation trouble in the Coca-Cola Championship The Times

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