Belfast Telegraph

Hughes: Coates hard done by

Mark Hughes thinks Stoke chairman Peter Coates has been hard done by after he was fined £5,000 by the Football Association for comments he made about referees.

Speaking to local paper the Sentinel last month after a series of matches where Stoke felt they had been badly treated, Coates said: "We feel we don't always get fair treatment and that is all we are asking for.

"There does seem to be a bias towards other teams. You always feel that because we have a good crowd that gets behind the team, referees seem to think, 'I will show them who's in charge here'."

The FA took a dim view of Coates' comments and charged him with improper conduct.

He denied the charge but was found guilty at an independent regulatory commission hearing.

An FA statement read: "Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, Peter Coates has been fined £5,000 in relation to media comments.

"The Stoke City chairman was charged with improper conduct in that his comments alleged and/or implied bias on the part of referees and/or brought the game into disrepute.

"Mr Coates denied the charge and requested a personal hearing at which the breach of FA Rule E3(1) was found proven. He was also warned as to his future conduct and ordered to pay £1,500 towards the cost of the hearing."

The outcome is unlikely to please Stoke, who were furious that Swansea manager Garry Monk was not punished for accusing Victor Moses of 'cheating'.

The Potters also feel captain Ryan Shawcross has been unfairly singled out as a player who grapples with opponents in the penalty area.

Manager Hughes said of Coates' fine: "I said at the outset that I was surprised he was charged.

"We've had the FA over and the referee's body. I know for a fact he's never questioned their integrity and he reserves the right to have his opinion. It's something that could've been dealt with in a different way.

"When it gets to appeal stage, it's very rare it goes against the initial charge. That tells you something."

There was more frustration for Hughes on Tuesday when Juan Mata's winning goal for Manchester United was allowed to stand despite Marcos Rojo challenging for the ball from an offside position.

The goal resulted in Stoke's third successive defeat, with United somehow hanging onto all three points during a frenetic end to the game.

Hughes said: "The lad Rojo was clearly interfering with play whether he got a touch or not. We asked the officials after the game, they said the lad didn't touch the ball. Irrespective of that, if you're on the field of play you're interfering and he was two yards in front of our keeper.

"We still showed character to keep going to the end, though, and, come the final moments, there were 75,000 fans screaming for the whistle.

"We should've converted our chances. That's the way it's going but, if we carry on playing the way we have been, we'll be fine."

Hughes conducted his press conference ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Arsenal at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield.

The visit was part of this week's Football Remembers tribute to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and the Christmas Truce matches.

"We took the opportunity to come here and pay our respects to the fallen," said Hughes.

"It's very close to us, considering it's the weekend to remember the Christmas troops. It's a very humbling experience for everybody.

"We're very fortunate to come to the memorial. It puts things back into perspective, because at times we do become embroiled in the world of football."

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