Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson hit with improper conduct charge

Sir Alex Ferguson has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association.

Ferguson has until 4pm on Tuesday to respond to the charge, which relates to comments made about referee Martin Atkinson immediately after Manchester United's Premier League defeat at Chelsea.

The United boss was fuming at Atkinson over his failure to dismiss Chelsea goalscorer David Luiz for clear fouls on Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney after the Brazilian had already been booked.

To compound that frustration Atkinson then awarded Chelsea what he considered a “soft” penalty when Yuri Zhirkov fell under Chris Smalling's challenge.

Although Ferguson's comments to host broadcaster Sky Sports are not thought to have overstepped the mark, those to United's in-house TV station MUTV have caused concern.

“You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway — and we didn't get that,” said Ferguson in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat.

“I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst.”

The Football Association asked MUTV for footage of the interview to check the context in which Ferguson delivered the words during the interview.

And, even though he immediately softened his stance, altering the word 'fair' to 'strong', disciplinary chiefs feel there is sufficient malice to warrant charging him in a week when Wayne Rooney escaped further punishment for elbowing James McCarthy at Wigan last week.

Even Ferguson accepted his star striker had been “fortunate”.

The Scot already has two matches of a four-game ban still hanging over him following his ill-advised comments about Alan Wiley last season, when he implied the official was not fit enough for his job.

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