Sunday 23 July 2017

Ferguson, Ancelotti escape with a warning

Alex Ferguson. Photo: Reuters
Alex Ferguson. Photo: Reuters

Mark Ogden

Alex Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti have escaped punishment for making complimentary comments about referee Howard Webb after the FA performed a climb-down.

The Manchester United and Chelsea managers were warned as to their future conduct yesterday in the wake of their comments about Webb prior to the Premier League clash between their teams at Old Trafford earlier this month.

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, who was glowing in his praise of Webb before the South Yorkshire official took charge of the club's FA Cup semi-final victory against Bolton in April, is also expected to be warned by the FA when his comments are reviewed today.

So angered was Ferguson by the FA charge, which was made public last Friday, the Scot snubbed the game's governing body by refusing to either accept or deny the charge prior to Monday's 4pm deadline.

And rather than rebuke Ferguson for his snub, an FA commission instead chose to warn the Scot -- and issue a clear warning to other managers -- that any future pre-match observations about officials are likely to result in disciplinary action.

Formally

The unnamed chairman of the commission said: "This rule was reiterated formally to all clubs on October 21, 2010.

"This (Ferguson's comments about Webb) is a clear breach of the rule and it is the first time such a matter has been placed in front of a commission.

"In this case, it was considered to be a minor breach, but a breach nevertheless, and it should be taken as a warning to all managers in the future that any such breach, even positive comments, are likely to result in a charge by the FA."

Ferguson's disdain for the FA's disciplinary procedures has grown in recent months -- he and senior figures at Old Trafford claim that the club are regularly victims of excessive punishment at the hands of the FA.

Ferguson was handed a five-match touchline ban and £30,000 fine for criticising referee Martin Atkinson following the Premier League defeat at Chelsea in March, and Wayne Rooney, who escaped punishment for elbowing Wigan's James McCarthy in February, received an unprecedented two-match ban for swearing while celebrating a goal against West Ham last month.

Meanwhile, members of United's Champions League squad will be entitled to claim up to 20 tickets each for next week's final against Barcelona at Wembley. The players automatically receive four tickets, but they have the option of purchasing a further 16 at £225 each.

Any of those tickets which remain unsold will be redistributed among supporters who failed to secure one of United's 25,000 allocation from Uefa, and fans are hopeful that some of the tickets will not be purchased by the players.

Mark Longden, of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association, said: "We don't begrudge the players the right to tickets for the final. It's only right that they and their families have the opportunity to buy tickets.

Concern

"The biggest concern is those tickets which go to executives and other groups while fans who watch the team every week miss out.

"It's not for us to tell the players to give the tickets back to the fans, but if any remain, it would be nice if they ended up with a genuine supporter."

Meanwhile, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has suffered a blow to his summer transfer plans after Kaka ruled out a move to Stamford Bridge.

The Real Madrid forward has been a target for Carlo Ancelotti, his manager at AC Milan, but wants to remain in Spain.

With Real signing Borussia Dortmund's Nuri Sahin and pursuing another German-based Turk, Hamit Altintop, Kaka's opportunities at the Bernabeu next season could be limited.

That, though, has not dented Kaka's loyalty, even though news that his mother, Simone Leite, was coming to London later this year hinted at a possible move.

She announced on Twitter recently that she was arriving in the capital, saying: "We are going to be in London next season where we will be preaching the word of God. We will be there from August." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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