By Adam Hicks.
Sir Alex Ferguson has been given a five-match touchline ban and a fine of £30,000 by the Football Association for his comments about referee Martin Atkinson after United’s defeat at Chelsea earlier this month.
The United manager was found guilty of improper conduct for criticising the referee’s performance in the 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge and will now be miss the crucial FA Cup tie with Manchester City.
Speaking to MUTV after the game, the 69 year-old said: “You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway – and we didn’t get that. I must say when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst.”
Ferguson was unhappy with Atkinson’s decision not to show David Luiz a second yellow card for challenges on Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez. The Manchester United boss also disagreed with the decision to award Chelsea a penalty when Yuri Zhirkov went over after a challenge by Chris Smalling.
After Frank Lampard converted the resulting spot-kick, Man United then had captain Nemanja Vidic sent off late on.
The Scot’s ban does not start until Tuesday the 22nd March which means Ferguson will be pitch side for Saturday’s clash with Bolton at Old Trafford.
Ferguson will be sent details explaining the charge in the next 24 hours; he then has 48 hours to decide whether to appeal against the punishment which is why he is permitted to attend the Bolton game.
If he chooses to accept the charge then the United boss will have to watch from the stands for crucial games against local rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final and a trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal in the Premier League.
Ferguson will also miss premier league ties against West Ham, Fulham and Everton meaning he will be absent for every game in April.
An Independent Regulatory Commissions Sanction today handed a three match touchline ban to Ferguson but also invoked a two-game suspended touchline ban which he received in October 2009 for comments made about referee Alan Wiley fitness.
The remarks came after United’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland last season. The Scot said: “He was also walking up the pitch for the second goal needing a rest. He was not fit enough for a game of that standard.”
Martin Atkinson refereed the game between Chelsea and United at Stamford Bridge last year which also centred on a controversial decision. Ferguson was unhappy with the free-kick awarded to Chelsea from which John Terry scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory.
The touchline ban is currently the longest in premier league history, Arsene Wenger was given an initial 12 match ban back in 2000 but that was reduced to just one game after an appeal.
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