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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 16:40 GMT
Gold insists Yorke will stay on
Dwight Yorke
Birmingham City chairman David Gold has insisted striker Dwight Yorke will not be leaving the club, after he was racially abused at Blackburn on Sunday.

Birmingham plc chairman David Sullivan had claimed the abuse had been "blown out of all proportion" and admitted he would allow Yorke to leave the club.

But Gold told the BBC: "Dwight is absolutely committed, focused and anxious to do well for Birmingham.

"The club and the board are fully behind Dwight."

Gold added: "He's not leaving - he's a consummate professional, and he's been in the gym, focusing on the game on Saturday."

He also confirmed Yorke and Sullivan had met since Sullivan's comments were made, and added: "They've had a chat, and my understanding is everything is fine."

The alleged racist incident occurred while Yorke - a former Blackburn player - was warming up ahead of coming on as a substitute, with the striker confronting fans on the side of the pitch.

Sullivan stood by his earlier comments that events had been "blown out of all proportion," although he conceded that his point could have been made more eloquently.

"Any type of racial abuse is unacceptable in society, but at the same time three people out of 22,000 is a tiny minority," he said.

"What went on in Spain is a massive problem, but three people making statements is not.

"The old nursery rhyme 'Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you' is true. There are a lot of nasty crimes out there which to me are worse.

"I would say I'm the most non-racial person who ever walked the face of this earth - I've got black friends, Indian friends and Jewish friends."

It's been blown out of all proportion
David Sullivan
In an interview with BBC WM, Sullivan added: "Maybe to say what happened 'was not the crime of the century' was the wrong choice of words and maybe I should have simply said it's been blown out of proportion.

"Maybe I'm not the most eloquent in choosing my expression. But I do believe three people out of 22,000, whilst it is not very nice, it is not a major problem."

Sullivan had earlier stated: "If he does (leave) then I'd admire him for standing by his principles.

"If he wants to go, then the club wouldn't stand in his way. I'd be very surprised, but I'd respect him.

"One hopes he doesn't do that but I'd happily write off the 250,000 transfer fee I paid six weeks ago if he does want to leave.

"Theoretically he can't sign for another club until January.

"But if the football authorities want to be so politically correct and waive the transfer window to let him join another club, then good as well."

Former Birmingham striker Stern John, a former international team-mate of Yorke's in the Trinidad and Tobago team, questioned Sullivan's place in football after his comments.

"You have to question whether there is a place in the game for someone who says something like that," he said.

"Sullivan said Dwight should have run away to the other end of the ground - but why should he have to do that when he has been racially abused?"




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Birmingham City chairman David Gold


Interview: Birmingham plc chairman David Sullivan





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