Gesture of goodwill may see Ferdinand withdraw ban appeal
RIO FERDINAND, the new England captain, was last night still agonising over whether he should withdraw his appeal against a four-match ban as a gesture of goodwill to the English FA.
The ban was increased by one match after Ferdinand's initial appeal and, despite a sense of injustice at Old Trafford, there is an expectation that the subsequent appeal will be withdrawn.
Ferdinand will be aware of the embarrassment that could be caused by a hearing on Friday, just a week after he was chosen by Fabio Capello to lead his England side.
It is understood that the FA is also keen for him to withdraw the appeal, although the ultimate decision will rest with United.
The FA's disciplinary procedure makes it clear that the club are responsible for lodging an appeal and, if Ferdinand does now want to accept his four-game ban, it would need Alex Ferguson's approval.
As of last night, the FA had received no notification from United, although the matter has been discussed by senior figures at Old Trafford and it is understood that the club are happy to be guided by Ferdinand's wishes.
Ferdinand received his four-match suspension after striking Hull City's Craig Fagan and failing in his attempt to overturn a violent conduct charge.
An additional game was added to the automatic three-game ban for what an FA disciplinary panel deemed to be a "frivolous" appeal. United then decided to also appeal against that decision, with Ferguson concerned by the inconsistency with the way similar incidents were being approached.
"There are conflicting ways in which these decisions are being viewed," said Ferguson. "The concern is the word frivolous. The two most experienced referees in the Premier League are Alan Wiley and Steve Bennett.
"They are under the same controls and the same directions. One says yes (Bennett), in the case of Rio, and one says no (Wiley), in the case of Javier Mascherano against Leeds United when he punched the player in the back of the head. When you see that example, we don't think our appeal was frivolous."
Should Ferdinand go through with the appeal, there is also the possibility of his suspension being increased again. If he withdraws the appeal, Ferdinand would ensure he is back to play for United in a Premier League game against West Ham on February 23 and the Carling Cup final on February 28.
He could return to face Everton on Saturday week if the additional one-game suspension was overturned. United can technically withdraw the Ferdinand appeal at any time before Friday's hearing. (© Daily Telegraph, London)