Graham Kelly, chief executive of the Football Association, is said to be so concerned by the pair's exchanges that he may report Bates under the terms of the new Chairman's Charter. However, that is designed only to deal with inter-club disputes, and the Premier League are unlikely to take any action.
That will put the ball firmly back into the FA's court, and they must then decide whether to charge Bates with bringing the game into disrepute.
The Chairman's Charter and the code of conduct for players and managers, which were both introduced at the start of the season, have yet to be tested, but a spokesman for the Premier League said: "The Chairman's Charter is designed to deal with relationships between clubs. The spirit of the Charter is to ensure that chairmen deal with each other in a proper manner.
"However, we do believe that all those in representative positions should act in a dignified and appropriate manner. If this matter is referred to us, then it will be looked at."
Privately, the League expressed doubt that they would have any powers to act and would simply end up referring the matter back across the corridor at Lancaster Gate.Reuse content