Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

FA rules out punishment for Bellamy

Craig Bellamy

Craig Bellamy and Gary Neville have both received warnings from the Football Association following incidents in Sunday's highly-charged Manchester derby.

The FA launched an investigation after Manchester City striker Bellamy shoved his hand into the face of a fan who invaded the Old Trafford pitch.

Neville, a non-playing Manchester United substitute, was also investigated for his actions in celebrating the home side's winner by running down the touchline towards the City fans.

The FA have decided against charging either player with improper conduct, however - referee Martin Atkinson told FA officials that he would not have sent off Bellamy had he seen the incident.

Bellamy will be warned as to his future conduct and the FA has reminded Neville of his responsibilities.

“The FA would repeat its previous advice that players should not become involved with or approach fans in such circumstances,” it said in a statement.

United have also avoided any disciplinary action after City substitute Javier Garrido was struck on the head by a coin as he headed down the tunnel at half-time.

But the FA “fully expects the club to use all available means to identify and deal with the culprit appropriately and, along with the fan who entered the field of play, look to issue bans on attending future matches”, the statement added.

City manager Mark Hughes yesterday defended Bellamy’s right to ‘hand-off’ the fan when he invaded the pitch after Michael Owen’s late winner and believes the striker’s actions have been vindicated.

“We viewed the incident as something and nothing,” he said.

“Craig wasn't privy to how much time was left to enable us to get back into the game. He wanted the guy to get off as quickly as possible - and told him so in no uncertain terms.

“The guy has made an aggressive move towards him and Craig has put up a defensive hand and pushed the guy away.

“He was right to do that because you are never quite sure what is going to happen in those situations.”

Nevertheless, Hughes will feel relieved at the FA's conclusion despite his bullish stance.

With Emmanuel Adebayor already banned and facing an improper conduct charge for his goal celebration against Arsenal the previous weekend, the last thing Hughes needed was Bellamy being ruled out as well.

With the book now closed on the disciplinary problems that scarred what has gone down as one of the most memorable derby clashes of all time, Hughes is even trying to draw a line under his fury at the amount of added time Atkinson played.

However, he feels an assessment of the rules needs to take place to see if improvements to a “confusing” situation can be made.

“I don't want to prolong the debate,” he said. “I said what I felt at the time.

“When people are putting a board up and an amount of time is shown in lights, it can cause confusion if that allotted time is exceeded.

“If you are looking at a different system where the allocation of time is taken over by someone else, maybe that would help.

“I am not saying I am advocating it but maybe it is an alternative that needs investigating.”

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