Football: Anfield fine for Fowler as FA acts

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The Independent Online
ROBBIE FOWLER has been fined pounds 32,000 by Liverpool and warned as to his future conduct for his "drug-taking" goal celebration and looks set for further punishment after being charged with misconduct by the Football Association.

The England striker was stunned by the size of the penalty - a week's wages - and the severity of the disciplinary measure that followed a public outcry over the way in which he marked his opening goal in the Merseyside derby against Everton last Saturday. He knelt down, put a finger to the side of his nose and appeared to snort the white goal-line, as if it were cocaine.

Fowler apologised for his antics and Liverpool at first stood by him, but the condemnation from both inside and outside the game has been such that the club has now handed out one of its biggest penalties.

Fowler, who was expecting a lesser fine, was called before the board at a meeting yesterday and given a serious dressing-down in front of the club's manager, Gerard Houllier.

The club issued a statement saying the board was aware that the FA had announced it was charging Fowler with misconduct, "but none the less imposed a very substantial fine. This will be donated privately to a number of local charities."

The statement also explained that Fowler had been given "a formal warning about his future conduct".

Fowler's laddish performance came on top of the fracas with Graeme Le Saux. The striker's behaviour, in deliberately pointing his backside at Le Saux, was seen as offensive by the Chelsea defender, who later struck out at Fowler. As a result, both players will appear before the FA on Friday. Fowler could be fined by the FA on both counts and be suspended.

Fowler, who has also had to pay a pounds 2,000 fine for turning up late for training under Liverpool's penalty code, has been given a clear message from the top that he has to be more responsible, with the ultimate possibility that he will be sold even though he only recently signed a new contract at Anfield.

Fowler and Houllier, who at first dismissed his striker's stunt as a joke, have been left in no doubt that the club will not tolerate any light-hearted nonsense that provokes problems among supporters. Fowler will be hoping that Liverpool's action will influence the local police in their investigation of a complaint from a member of the public.

The bad news for Fowler came as the Professional Footballers' Association announced a scheme to fine persistent offenders a proportion of their wages after they have picked up eight bookings. More serious penalties could be introduced for players who are sent off, with fines of 50 per cent of wages for a first red card, rising to 75 per cent and then possibly 100 per cent for successive offences. Dismissal for violent conduct and other serious offences that warrant a three-match suspension would carry a fine equal to one week's wages.

The PFA's chief executive, Gordon Taylor, stressed that the maximum penalty would be the docking of two weeks' wages, the level at which players can be punished at present.

"Players are reluctant to be fined, particularly when they are doing their job," he said. "My concern is for offences which are not intended fouls at all, but misjudgement of tackles."

There are fears that the fines could hit the poorest paid players in the lower divisions particularly hard but Taylor denied that would happen. "We are trying to be even-handed all the way round and we want the game to be played in the right manner," he said. "Some chairmen want to pay players nothing when they are suspended, but that is totally wrong."

The proposal to fine miscreants emerged from a series of talks involving the Premier League and the Football League. Taylor said the players' union was not responding to threats from the chairmen. The PFA's management committee will now discuss the recommendations, and Taylor said they still needed "refining".