Belfast Telegraph

New spat for Manchester United star Jonny Evans... this time with the FA

By Steven Beacom

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans stuck to his guns last night to fight the Football Association charge of spitting at Newcastle's Papiss Cisse.

The Northern Ireland star is adamant that he was not guilty of spitting at his opponent during Wednesday night's Premier League game at St James' Park and believes he does not deserve the six game ban that automatically comes with such an offence.

Angry at being charged by the FA, he also feels being found guilty would unfairly damage his reputation, which is why he has been so determined to put up the most robust defence possible.

Today he will find out the verdict of an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, which began last night after he denied the charge.

The 27-year-old Ulsterman had been given until 6pm last night to respond to a charge of spitting which was levelled at both him and Cisse under the FA's rule E1[a] on Thursday.

And while Newcastle striker Cisse almost immediately accepted the charge having apologised to his team-mates, fans and Evans about Wednesday's unsavoury clash, FA disciplinary chiefs announced Evans would fight it.

An FA statement, released via its official Twitter account last night, read: "Manchester United's Jonny Evans denies FA charge in relation to incident involving Papiss Cisse.

"Independent Regulatory Commission hearing tonight, decision expected tomorrow."

Evans' decision was entirely in keeping with a statement he released before charges were levelled, insisting he would never deliberately spit at a fellow professional, a sentiment backed up by his manager Louis van Gaal.

Van Gaal said of the spitting claims on Thursday: "It was not his intention and I said already I cannot imagine that Jonny Evans could do that and he has said that also. I believe him so for me the matter has been done."

The incident has split football with some in the game feeling Evans should be punished while others believe he should be given the all clear.

In the Belfast Telegraph yesterday Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill stated his belief that Evans would "never" spit at an opponent.

If found guilty the first match of a six match ban for Evans would be Monday night's FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal.

He and Cisse were charged after a panel of former elite referees unanimously agreed they both had cases to answer.

Striker Cisse reacted angrily to the defender's 38th-minute challenge on him and television replays suggested both men spat in the direction of the other as the confrontation continued.

Neither match referee Anthony Taylor nor his assistants saw the incident, prompting the FA to launch an investigation.

Once Cisse, 29, accepted the charge he was in line for a seven-game suspension - his mandatory six game ban will be increased because of a violent conduct case earlier in the campaign - which all but ends his season.

If Evans fails in his bid to clear his name, he will sit out against Arsenal, the league games against Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City, the FA Cup semi-final if United get there, and the trip to Chelsea if they do not.

Cisse is set to miss league fixtures against Everton, Arsenal, Sunderland, Liverpool, Tottenham, Swansea and Leicester.

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