Villas-Boas not fazed by Terry's Loftus return
ANDRE Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, has no reservations about exposing John Terry to the near certainty of a volatile and ugly atmosphere at Loftus Road for their FA Cup tie against QPR later this month.
The match comes just three days before Terry is due to appear in court over the allegation that he racially abused Anton Ferdinand, the QPR defender, on his previous visit to Loftus Road last October.
Terry has strenuously denied the allegation and has made it clear that he wants to play in the match. Ferdinand has also made himself available, with all eyes certain to be on both players when the two teams line-up for the traditional pre-match handshake. Terry has played previously in deeply hostile environments and, when asked if he was happy for his captain to face QPR, Villas-Boas said: "Of course." Mark Hughes, the QPR manager, has also stressed that he would have no concerns about selecting Ferdinand.
QPR are keen to ensure that tensions do not get out of hand and are preparing a message on their website to warn fans that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.
Club officials also met with police yesterday to begin planning what will be an extensive security operation.
In the FA Cup, it is normal for opposition fans to be offered a 15pc allocation of tickets but that can be reduced in consultation both with the police and local authority. The match has already been moved to a 12 noon kick-off on January 28, despite not being among the five FA Cup fixtures that have been selected for live television coverage.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced in December that Terry would face a criminal charge over allegations of a racially aggravated public order offence. Terry has vowed to fight "tooth and nail" to clear his name. Although the maximum sentence is a fine of £2,500, the damage a conviction would cause to his hopes of remaining England captain could be terminal.