Alex Ferguson’s latest improper conduct charge has been passed onto the Football Association’s disciplinary committee – but the FA have taken the unusual step of refusing to say whether Manchester United has accepted it or not.
The FA has taken huge amounts of stick for charging Ferguson over complimentary comments he made about referee Howard Webb 48 hours before his side met Chelsea in the Premier League at Old Trafford on May 8.
Even Ferguson’s old adversary Arsene Wenger defended the Scot, claming: “He is entitled to have that opinion. To me, it doesn’t look to be a major problem to say that somebody is good. I would not charge him for that.”
Having given Ferguson a five-match touchline ban for comments made about Martin Atkinson at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, the FA are aware they appear to be singling the United boss out at present.
However, they made it clear in a letter issued to all managers in October that any pre-match comments, whether positive or negative, would be interpreted as an attempt to influence an official and deemed in contravention of Rule E3.
In refusing to say how Ferguson had responded, or when the matter would be dealt with, the FA are presumably trying to take the heat out of the situation.
They will also be mindful of the fact any hearing could disrupt United’s preparations for their Champions League final with Barcelona at Wembley on May 28.
United also offered no comment this evening.
It has previously been suggested Ferguson would expect to be handed a fine at worst for his latest misdemeanour.
“We have received correspondence from Manchester United with respect of the improper conduct charge issued to Sir Alex Ferguson on May 13,” said an FA statement. “The matter will be dealt with by the disciplinary committee in due course.”