Phil Brown, the Hull City manager, has said sorry to the city's Women's Institute after an "unsavoury" public altercation between Jimmy Bullard and Nick Barmby earlier this week. The teammates were involved in the incident, which was witnessed by a large gathering of the female voluntary organisation, during a "warm-down" session near the Humber Bridge following the 5-1 defeat by Everton on Sunday.
"I'd like to apologise to the Women's Institute, I didn't realise there was a rally going on there and there was apparently 50-100 women going on a march across the Humber Bridge. "The incident was unsavoury, it was unfortunate," said Brown, who added that the matter was dealt with "in house". "It's a sign that they care. Nick Barmby has obviously got himself involved with Jimmy Bullard. "They are big players where we are concerned and I'm looking forward to the response of the group and of the two players in question.
"There are no fractures within the squad. This squad is united." Meanwhile, City midfielder George Boateng was upset by the incident, but for a different reason. "I'm sorry because I missed it, I wasn't there. I would have paid to watch it," he said. Hull host Arsenal today in a match for which Barmby's and Bullard's actions seem entirely appropriate. The last time the sides met they were fined over the conduct of their players. The December game at the Emirates Stadium turned nasty when Arsenal's Samir Nasri trod on the ankle of Hull's Richard Garcia.
The resulting melee involved 21 players and led Hull to be fined £40,000 (Dh222,568) and the Gunners half that amount. Arsenal scored shortly afterwards and won 3-0, in what was their seventh victory in their last eight games against the Tigers - dating back to 1930. The sides also had a controversial FA Cup tie last season, with the Arsenal captain Cesc Febregas, who will miss today's game through injury, eventually being cleared of spitting at Hull assistant manager Brian Horton in the tunnel.
Wenger refused to shake Brown's hand after that game despite seeing his team progress to the semi-finals. But earlier this week, Wenger said there was no "bad blood" between the teams. A win will see the Gunners climb above Manchester United into second place, and maybe even go top should Chelsea falter against West Ham. Hull, who are in the bottom three on goal difference, have seen all five of their victories come at home, but have won just once since November.
firstname.lastname@example.org Hull v Arsenal, 9.30pm, Showsports 1 & 2