Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ferguson banned for 5-games

As a follow-up to my recent post this week about the disappointing behavior from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, BBC Sport announces that a Football Association tribunal has given Sir Alex Ferguson a five-match touchline ban for his comments about referee Martin Atkinson.

The Manchester United manager was found guilty of improper conduct for criticising Atkinson's display in the loss at Chelsea earlier this month.

"You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway - and we didn't get that," Ferguson told MUTV.

The ban starts on 22 March and includes the FA Cup tie against Manchester City.

The Independent Regulatory Commission's sanction is made up of a three-game ban for the Atkinson remarks and the activation of a two-game suspended ban that Ferguson was given last season for suggesting referee Alan Wiley was not "fit enough" to keep up with play.

The three-man panel also fined the 69-year-old manager £30,000.

The reasons for the decision will be sent to Ferguson in the next 24 hours and he then has 48 hours to decide if he wants to appeal. This is why the sanction does not start until after Saturday's home league game against Bolton Wanderers.

Should he accept the punishment, the Old Trafford boss will have to watch the Premier League games against West Ham, Fulham, Everton and Arsenal from the stands, as well as the semi-final against local rivals City at Wembley.

His outburst about Atkinson followed a hard-fought clash at Stamford Bridge that saw United score first but lose to second-half goals from David Luiz and Frank Lampard, the latter coming from the penalty spot.

Ferguson was furious that Luiz had not been sent off for fouls on Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney after the Brazilian defender had already been booked. He was also angry about the decision to award Chelsea with a penalty when Yuri Zhirkov fell under Chris Smalling's challenge.

The veteran manager may consider himself a little unlucky about the severity of the punishment as he did temper his remarks in the MUTV interview by changing his initial comment about wanting a "fair referee" to the less contentious "strong referee".

But the FA has clearly taken into account the final warning he was effectively given last season for criticising Wiley and the fact he contested these charges.

In terms of how the punishment compares to other touchline bans handed out in British football, it is the longest of Ferguson's career but three games less than the two consecutive bans Celtic manager Neil Lennon is currently serving in Scotland.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was given a 12-game ban from the dugout for pushing a fourth official in 2000 but that was reduced to one game on appeal.

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