Sir Ferguson May Be Punished For Remarks Against Atkinson

Sir Alex Ferguson

The Football Association's lawyers are deliberating over whether to open proceedings against Ferguson following his reaction at Stamford Bridge.

Ferguson reportedly will plead not guilty of any violation. Ferguson already has two matches of a four-game touchline ban hanging over him as a suspended sentence for his condemnation of referee Alan Wiley in 2009.

That punishment will be triggered automatically if Ferguson is found guilty of misconduct for the Chelsea post-match outburst.

Ferguson blamed Atkinson for not sending off Chelsea defender David Luiz and blamed the defeat on a series of refereeing decisions.

"You hope you get a really strong referee in games like this," he said. "It was a major game for both clubs and you want a fair referee, you know ... You want a strong referee, anyway, and we didn't get that. I don't know why he's got the game. I must say that, when I saw who was refereeing it, I feared the worst."

The FA has asked for an unedited copy of Ferguson's post-match interviews from Stamford Bridge and the governing body has until 4pm on Friday to decide what to do next.

If charged, Ferguson would be given one working day to respond and a hearing would take place next week, ruling out the possibility that Ferguson will have to watch Sunday's game at Liverpool in the stands. Instead, a possible ban would come into place for two home games, the FA Cup quarter-final on 12 March and the Premier League game against Bolton Wanderers a week later.

Ferguson was asked by the referee's union to retract his comments about Atkinson.

"The ball is in Sir Alex's court," he said. "I'm less interested in whether he's charged than removing this stigma from the referee at Stamford Bridge.

"The referees are saying that if one is questioned then it questions them all. None of them want their integrity impaired. So the best way would be a retraction."

Nemanja Vidic is suspended after being sent off at Chelsea - Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra are out injured.

Michael Carrick remarked, "We feel pretty down but we can move on quickly."

"We have to. We're used to doing it and normally we are good at it. That is the nature of the beast."

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