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Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 14:57 GMT
Bowyer's belligerence
Leeds midfielder Lee Bowyer confronts referee Jeff Winter about his red card
Bowyer has been in trouble on the pitch too
By BBC Sport Online's Nada Grkinic

Leeds United's decision to put Lee Bowyer on the transfer list represented yet another twist in the tale of the controversial midfielder.

Despite being cleared on Friday of any involvement in the attack on Asian student Sarfraz Najeib, Bowyer's behaviour on the night in question was deemed unacceptable by his club.

And the message from chairman Peter Ridsdale and manager David O'Leary is clear - such conduct will not be tolerated.


Regrettably Lee has refused to accept this club's disciplinary sanction
Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale

One would have thought that, following close media scrutiny for the past two years, Bowyer would have learnt his lesson and accepted his punishment.

But, in what appears to be a direct act of defiance, the talented midfielder has chosen to further damage Leeds' already battered image.

It is difficult to see what other option was left open to the Yorkshire club, who had vowed to carry out their own internal disciplinary review.

And since Jonathan Woodgate - found guilty of affray in the aforementioned attack - has accepted his eight-week fine, the transfer list was the only place left for Bowyer.

The 24-year-old now has two choices - and both are likely to have a monumental impact on his career.

With Leeds enjoying their most exciting period in years, Bowyer may want to reconsider his decision.

Leeds boss David O'Leary and Peter Ridsdale
O'Leary and Ridsdale are conscious of the club's image

A regular place in a team which has the capability to dominate on both the Premiership and European stage is not to be sniffed at.

Bowyer showed his undoubted potential last season, and was arguably Leeds' best player.

He excelled in their Champions League adventure and produced consistently high performances as O'Leary's side finished strongly in the Premiership.

The chance of domestic success could pave the way for Bowyer to force his way into Sven-Goran Eriksson's World Cup squad, too.

However, one wonders whether the image conscious Football Association will be brave enough to give him that opportunity now.

Should Bowyer head for the Elland Road exit, he may struggle to find a club that wants him.

Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Aston Villa would normally covet a player of his ability.

But the managers of these Premiership high-flyers are all known for their strict codes of discipline.

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
Bowyer may be too big a risk for Houllier

It would be a big risk, say, for Gerard Houllier to sign Bowyer when he has just off-loaded Robbie Fowler to Leeds.

Fowler, like Bowyer, had his off-the-field problems and occasionally landed himself in hot water with the cub.

One certainty among the ifs and buts is that Bowyer's prolonged absence from the Leeds side will hit their Premiership challenge hard.

The club are already depleted in the midfield department, with Olivier Dacourt sidelined with a dislocated shoulder and Eirik Bakke still not fully fit.

There's little doubt, Bowyer gives Leeds an extra dimension, an added impetus they sometimes lack - as they did in the second half of their 2-2 draw with Leicester on Sunday.

Whether the player sees sense and changes his mind remains to be seen.

Whatever he does, Bowyer's reputation - and general ambivalence to those who have shown great patience with him - will now, if it did not already, go before him.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar
"He may not have broken the law, but he has broken Leeds United rules"
BBC Sport's Mike Sewell
"The Leeds midfielder refused to accept a fine imposed by the club"
 VOTE RESULTS
Should Leeds sell Lee Bowyer?

Yes
 70.45% 

No
 29.55% 

14850 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
Lee Bowyer is transfer-listed after refusing to pay a club fine at Leeds United

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18 Dec 01 |  Sports Talk
Should Leeds sell Bowyer?
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