Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is facing his first ever touchline ban in English football, after being charged with ‘using abusive language and behaviour amounting to improper conduct’ by the FA.
The charge relates to an incident at the end Arsenal’s recent Premier League game with Sunderland, in which the irate Wenger was seen to shove/tap/sarcastically pat/savagely maul (delete according to your own personal bias) then deliver a verbal volley to fourth official Martin Atkinson after Darren Bent dramatically equalised for the Black Cats as the tie entered it’s fifth minute of stoppage time.
Wenger was angered by the fact that Atkinson had previously signalling that only four extra minutes were scheduled. Speaking in a post-match interview, the Arsenal manager explained his ire;
“It was outside the four minutes. I know the referee can give more than four, it’s a minimum of four minutes. But in the four minutes nothing happened to justify the extension of the time. But I cannot do anything about that.”
Wenger also went on to play down his altercation with Atkinson, but the FA were not convinced with the Frenchman’s defense and released a statement on their official website to detail their stance on the matter;
“Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been charged with using insulting and/or abusive language and behaviour amounting to improper conduct. The charges relate to Wenger’s conduct towards match officials at the conclusion of Arsenal’s match against Sunderland on September 18th.
Under the FA’s new fast-track procedures, Wenger has until Thursday, September 23rd to respond to the charge and he has been offered a standard sanction of a one-match touchline ban and an £8,000 fine should he accept the charge. If he denies the charge, the case will be heard by a Regulatory Commission.”
Wenger officially has until Thursday to accept the charge, a decision that would probably see him forced to sit out of Arsenal’s Premier League game against West Brom on Saturday due to the newly-streamlined initiative the FA have installed for processing punishments.
Should Wenger continue to profess his innocence then he will be made to face an FA Regulatory Comission, which would increase the likelehood of his touchline ban being extended further – thus meaning that he would be forced to watch Arsenal’s crunch tie with rivals Chelsea on October 3rd from the stands.
However, it is being reported that under the FA’s shiny new ‘fast track’ initiative (a scheme that, as yet, no-one fully understands – least not the FA themselves), if Wenger accepts the charge before his side kick-off against Tottenham in the Carling Cup tonight then he will be able to serve his ban by watching the aforementioned second-string kick-about from the director’s box at White Hart Lane.
Bit of a ‘no-brainer’, isn’t it?
UPDATE: The news has just broken that Arsene Wenger has indeed accepted the FA’s charge of improper conduct and, as a result, will be unable to take charge of Arsenal’s Carling Cup clash with Spurs tonight.