Ferguson didn’t hold back in his post-match interview following defeat to Chelsea but his words appeared relatively gentile and well veiled considering some of his past critique’s. Indeed, the offending incendiary appears to be his line about the game requiring a ‘fair’ referee.
That gambit only partially infers that Atkinson favoured the home side, and the whole rant doesn’t particularly seem to warrant a misconduct charge. A little over twelve months ago, Ferguson labelled Chris Foy an ‘insult’ after Manchester United were knocked out of the FA Cup by Leeds, yet when hauled over the coals the Scot was let off for the remark despite being on a suspended sentence for having a dig at Alan Wiley in October.
The latest charge comes within Ferguson’s probation period for the Wiley suspension and could see him spend as many as five games on the sidelines as United chase a domestic double. Although the FA need to be pliant in acting on the Scot’s familiar tirade’s, it will be interesting to hear their motives and punishment for this latest indiscretion.
Given the nature and context of Ferguson’s words against Atkinson the actual charge of misconduct appears harsh for this particular incident viewed in isolation. The FA’s disciplinary works are based more on their one-sided interpretations than many concrete statutes, and it seems that Ferguson is bearing the brunt for the association’s failure to punish Wayne Rooney for his apparent elbow on James McCarthy the previous weekend.
The widespread opinion was that Rooney’s brush with McCarthy waranted a sending off, but contrary to presentable evidence the FA decided that Mark Clattenburg had sufficiently dealt with the England strikers blatant elbow and no retrospective condemnation was needed.
Such leniency was considered a whitewash and in rebuking Ferguson for his Atkinson comments, the FA have simply sought to re-dress some of the balance for failing to administer necessary sanctions on Rooney.
Technically, if the FA view Ferguson’s behaviour as ‘improper conduct’ he should serve a five game touchline ban, but what are the chances that he will serve a two or three game ban with a further suspension suffixed to it?
The problem here lies with the FA’s ever-changing-to-suit disciplinary procedures which follow no rhyme or reason and are dealt out by a faceless panel with the monolithic judicial system of a crumbling African despot.
The decisions coming out from the halls of this dictatorial disciplinary regime feel more based on media spin than on any measured or considered evidence meaning the body contravenes just about every legal aspect of democratic, civil and human rights laws in the country.
Punishing Ferguson should not and does not atone for letting Rooney off. It is yet another example of the FA governing the game through unchallengeable post-justification.
The FA were swift to apportion blame and cynicism towards FIFA after the failed World Cup bid and Champions League tickets swindle, yet the basic principles of justice and fair play are being compromised on a regular basis without pretence.
It is time that the FA dealing with disciplinary matters was viewed as a conflict of interest. The administrators of our game regularly struggle to be either a hawk or a dove, let alone both. Surely there is now a need for an independent disciplinary commission to take the responsibility away from Soho Square?