Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United take another gamble on Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand could miss the Carling Cup final at the end of the month after Manchester United decided yesterday to appeal against his extended four-match ban for elbowing Hull's Craig Fagan during the 4-0 win against Hull last month.

The England defender was found guilty by the Football Association of violent conduct over the incident in that match.

Ferdinand pleaded not guilty to the charge, and that plea bought him time to play in last week's Carling Cup semi-final win over Manchester City.

If he had pleaded guilty, the case would have been dealt with quicker, and he would have missed the derby match.

But the decision backfired when the FA's independent regulatory commission then found him guilty of elbowing Fagan in the face and decided to add an extra game to the mandatory three-match suspension.

The FA's decision left United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, fuming and now the Premier League champions have decided to appeal against the extra game handed down to Ferdinand. There is no further appeal possible — or desired — against the three-match ban.

Ferguson is hoping the appeal is successful and that the ban is reduced back to three games, freeing up Ferdinand to face Everton on February 20.

But if United lose the appeal at a subsequent hearing, the FA has the power to extend Ferdinand's ban to five games which would sideline him until the end of the month and force him to sit out the Carling Cup final against Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa at Wembley on February 28.

United have informed the FA of their decision to appeal and will lodge the relevant paperwork by tea-time tonight .

Belfast Telegraph

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