PLAYERS' chief Gordon Taylor and Blackburn Rovers chaplain Ken Howles today lead the attack on Glenn Hoddle.

The England manager was expected to hear his fate today as the furore surrounding remarks about disabled and handicapped people intensified.

Blackburn-based Taylor compared Hoddle to former BBC presenter David Icke, who was widely ridiculed for his outspoken and outlandish religious beliefs.

And he felt the latest controversy was "a bridge too far" for Hoddle.

Taylor said: "I'm not really sure where he can go from here without antagonism building up.

"If his religion remains private, good luck to him. When it is introduced into the England training camp, you have to say 'Is this right for the England manager?'"

Taylor believes the problems started for Hoddle with his World Cup diary.

And the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association added the FA should have advised Hoddle to vet The Times story that sparked the uproar.

Taylor added: "I feel very embarrassed. Professional footballers are very conscious of how grateful they are to be fit athletes and have a lot of respect for the disabled.

"He seems to have dug himself a hole and keeps digging." Taylor described Hoddle's views as "pick and mix religion" that did not represent Christianity.

And Howles, vicar at St Bartholomew's in Ewood, also branded Hoddle's remarks on re-incarnation as "not Christian".

"If Glenn Hoddle has said what he is reported to have said then I've got real problems with that," said Ken.

"I'm fed up with the media quoting him as a born-again Christian because, if he said what he did, then that simply isn't Christian in any way, shape or form.

"What he said about handicapped people is appalling.

"And he cannot expect to have any respect in the dressing room now because some of those players might have handicapped relatives. He's got to go."

Hoddle spent the past two days desperately attempting to cling on to his job and reputation after he rebuffed initial calls for his resignation.

His future was in the hands of Football Association chiefs who met to discuss the situation last night and this morning amid a growing tide of opinion that their man should be sacked.

Senior figures at Lancaster Gate reported last night that they needed more time to continue their emergency talks.

Acting FA chairman Geoff Thompson was the man to decide Hoddle's fate after gathering the views of power-brokers such as Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks, Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein and Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dave Richards. David Davies emerged from the FA's Lancaster Gate headquarters to announce that any decision on the future of Hoddle would not be made until tea-time today.

The FA's acting chief executive said meetings among the game's top brass had continued late last night and this morning and were likely to go on all day.

Davies had hoped to make a definitive announcement at lunchtime but said that matters had been delayed.

Davies said: "I regret the timetable has slipped back and subsequently a statement will be just after teatime rather than lunchtime."

The FA vowed to pay attention to public opinion, which seemed more and more firmly entrenched against Hoddle after his reported comments that disabled people were paying the price for their sins in past lives.

It would appear he lost almost any support remaining after poor Euro 2000 qualifying results, his World Cup diary and his continued use of faith healer Eileen Drewery.

Even Prime Minister Tony Blair joined the wave of condemnation, stating that his comments were "very wrong" if they had been reported correctly.

The recent resignations of his main backers, former FA chairman Keith Wiseman and chief executive Graham Kelly, over the 'cash-for-votes' scandal, left him an increasingly isolated figure. Bookmakers last night stopped taking bets on Hoddle being axed as speculation began on the candidates to replace him.

FA technical director Howard Wilkinson was suggested as likely to take over in a caretaker's role, while Kevin Keegan and Bryan Robson were put up as long-term successors in the likely scenario that Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson should rule themselves out.

But if there has been one thing that has characterised Hoddle's reign, apart from those poor results and controversies, it has been his dogged refusal to admit making a mistake.

Hoddle's reported comments may have been deeply insulting but certainly would not necessarily have constituted a sacking offence if he had immediately offered a fulsome apology, explained his views in full and then vowed to keep quiet on non-footballing matters.

Instead, he waited before embarking on a round of defensive television interviews, insisting he was misquoted and misrepresented, stopping short only of claiming mistaken identity or an alibi.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.