The Football Association, in their infinite wisdom, have seen fit to charge both Everton manager David Moyes and his assistant Steve Round with improper conduct, after the irate pair huffed across the Goodison turf following their last-ditch 3-3 draw with Manchester United on Saturday to berate referee Martin Atkinson for the monumentally crap timing of his final whistle.
After dramatically levelling a two-goal deficit during stoppage time, a buoyant Everton side swept forward looking for a winner – only for Atkinson to signal the end of the game (30 seconds ahead of schedule), just as the sweeping counter-attack reached the edge of United’s penalty area.
A pent-up Moyes then briefly chastised Atkinson on the half-way line before storming down the tunnel to voice his understandable ire during a post-match interview;
“The two goals were scored after 90 minutes and they’d put up three minutes of extra time. [Atkinson] didn’t get his time right because there was more time to add on for the goals and he played three minutes 30 seconds.
[United] had the corner kick and we had a great counter-attack and he blew up with the ball 25-yards from their goal.
It is a spectator sport with people coming to watch the game and not for him to be the main man and the one who wants to be seen making the decisions. That was a terrible decision in my book.”
The FA, not the most avid exponents of the right to free speech, have taken a distinctly dim view of Moyes’ outburst and chosen to charge the Everton management team with misconduct, which also carries a cumulative £16,000 fine (£8,000 each).
They also chose to highlight their ridiculously conservative stance in a statement posted on their official website this morning;
“Everton manager David Moyes and assistant manager Steve Round have both been charged with improper conduct.
The charges relate to Moyes’ and Round’s conduct towards referee Martin Atkinson on the pitch following the final whistle at Everton’s home match against Manchester United on September 11.
Under the FA’s new fast-track procedures, Moyes and Round have until Thursday, September 16th, to respond to the charges and have both been offered a standard sanction of an £8,000 fine should they accept the charge.
If either party denies the charge, the case will be heard by a regulatory commission within 10 working days.”
The decision to punish Moyes is almost laughably ridiculous, but it raises a deep-seated issue that is in dire need of addressing.
The charges that the FA continually bring against outspoken managers are part of the initiative to neuter any post-match criticism of the officials, or of the totem of authority in general. It’s blanket self-preservation on an almost fascist level.
In their relentless pursuit for the complete sterilisation of their public relations, the FA gatekeepers have once again inadvertently (and rather ironically) mired the game in disrepute themselves.
The enforcement of this embargo that the FA have placed on free speech and open criticism must end. It’s not remotely fair, it’s counter-productive and over-protective and, as I see it, it’s a flagrant breach of basic human rights.