Rio Ferdinand will accept a handshake from John Terry if he lines up for Manchester United in their Premier League game at Chelsea on Sunday.
Terry’s court case for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand’s younger brother, the Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, begins on Wednesday, with lawyers representing the England captain set to issue a not guilty plea.
QPR players had decided to reject the chance to shake Terry’s hand before Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Chelsea, as a gesture of solidarity with Ferdinand, only for the Football Association to agree to scrap the pre-match ritual after petitions from both clubs.
Rio Ferdinand has not made any public comment on the row involving his sibling and England team-mate, and is anxious not to do anything which could inflame an already volatile situation, but it is believed that he is prepared to take part in the handshake when United travel to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea and United could ask for the handshake to be suspended, drawing the sting out of the situation, but that is thought to be unlikely. Either way, the final decision will rest with the Premier League, with a spokesman confirming last night that they will wait for the clubs to approach them before deciding on their course of action.
The game between Chelsea and United is not the only one attracting attention for its pre-match pleasantries. Liverpool's visit to Manchester United on Feb 11 could also prove incendiary, given it is likely to throw together Luis Suárez and Patrice Evra for the first time since the Uruguayan racially abused the United defender in October.
QPR’s visit to Chelsea at the end of April will also cause a headache for the authorities, given the attitude of Rangers’ players towards Terry is unlikely to have softened in the interim.
Feb 5: Chelsea v Man Utd
Tensions could run high between Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.
Feb 11: Man Utd v Liverpool
Luis Suárez likely to meet Patrice Evra for the first time.
Apr 28: Chelsea v QPR
Anton Ferdinand likely to come up against Terry again.