Prutton out of relegation battle after 10-game ban

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The Independent Online

David Prutton, the Southampton midfielder, was banned for 10 matches yesterday after admitting two charges of improper conduct following his red card in the match against Arsenal last weekend.

David Prutton, the Southampton midfielder, was banned for 10 matches yesterday after admitting two charges of improper conduct following his red card in the match against Arsenal last weekend.

Prutton was charged by the Football Association with failing to leave the pitch promptly, pushing the referee and using threatening words and behaviour in last Saturday's 1-1 draw at St Mary's Stadium.

Prutton, who has already apologised for his behaviour, was also fined £6,000 by the FA's disciplinary board.

The suspension effectively rules Prutton out for the rest of the season. Southampton have 10 Premier League matches left and have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals.

"It is a hefty ban," Prutton said, "but I put myself in that position by doing what I did and now I have to face the consequences. I regretted it as soon as I had done it. I sat in the dressing-room and realised I had let down my team-mates, my manager and myself. I portrayed an image that is not me and I hope people watching football will not follow it."

The ban for the 23-year-old, who joined Southampton from Nottingham Forest for £2.5m in 2003, is only one match less than the one handed to Sheffield Wednesday's Italian forward Paolo Di Canio for pushing referee Paul Alcock to the ground during a match six years ago.

Di Canio was sent off for his part in a brawl during Wednesday's home game with Arsenal and took issue with Alcock, shoving him in the chest before the referee stumbled back and fell to the ground. The FA banned Di Canio for 11 games and fined him £10,000.

Prutton's minute of madness has cost the Southampton manager, Harry Redknapp, one of his key midfielders for a crucial run of games. By the time Prutton returns from his ban, Southampton could in theory have already been relegated.

Prutton's push on referee Alan Wiley, who sent him off for two bookable offences during the game against Arsenal, is one Prutton regrets, but there was little sympathy yesterday from the FA.

There was also little sympathy from the former Chelsea favourite Ron Harris, who said Prutton's behaviour reflects a lack of respect in football. Harris, who was revered for his uncompromising defending, insists players and managers from his era had more respect for officials. "I don't think he can have any complaints at 10 matches," Harris said. "His reaction was totally unacceptable so a ban of this length is fair. The big difference from today is that we had respect for the referee, I cannot recollect any player attacking or abusing the referee or linesman. We had disputes but [Prutton's] actions were ridiculous."

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