The rancour between the Premier League's two Manchester clubs showed no sign of abating last night as the Football Association considered imposing a three-match ban on the City striker Craig Bellamy, following his altercation with a fan at the end of the Old Trafford derby, and the club's defender Javier Garrido, hit by a coin as he left the field at half-time, accused United of "creating a climate of hostility against us".
A violent conduct charge for Bellamy, which could be levelled as early as today, would infuriate City, who are still smarting over Emmanuel Adebayor's own three-match penalty for the same offence. United may not escape scot-free from the controversies of Sunday afternoon: a one-game ban for improper conduct may also be imposed by the FA on Gary Neville over his inflammatory celebrations at the end of the game. The FA, which was gathering evidence to supplement referee Martin Atkinson's report yesterday, may take into account Neville's celebration against Liverpool which earned him a £5,000 fine three years ago. The defender was warned back then as to his future conduct.
But no action against United would pacify Hughes if the FA bans two of his strikers simultaneously. Hughes has been told by Bellamy that he simply pushed away the fan who ran on to the field after Michael Owen scored United's 96th-minute fourth goal, such was his desire to get the match re-started immediately.
Bellamy, who is understood to feel aggrieved that the incident has been blown up, has explained to Hughes that when he was confronted by the fan, named locally as 21-year-old Jake Clarke, he told him to "get off the fucking pitch." The fan was unwilling to and when he responded to the Welshman with the same expletive, Bellamy pushed him away. The fan has not made an official complaint against Bellamy though he has been charged with going on to a playing area without lawful authority or excuse and he is expected to receive a lifetime ban from Old Trafford. He will appear before Trafford Magistrates on 30 September. "We are at an investigatory stage. We have received the referee's report and are gathering evidence," an FA spokesman said.
City believe Neville's celebration in front of their fans at the end of the derby were at least as provocative as Adebayor's before Arsenal's fans and are already intent on using it in their Togolese striker's defence against FA charges of improper conduct. The club were infuriated by the way the Manchester United club captain performed a series of star jumps down the touchline until he reached a position in front of City's fans. It was a taunt masquerading as a warm-up exercise, City feel. The club are compiling a case to counter the FA's improper conduct charge against Adebayor which will draw on other celebrations which have attracted similar FA charges, including Neville's 2006 offence and Thierry Henry's celebration in the 3-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur in 2002.
The FA is also investigating the Garrido incident, in which a missile – seemingly aimed at Carlos Tevez – hit the City substitute as the two players walked off at half-time and United may find themelves in the dock. The prospects of catching the offender are slim. First examination of CCTV footage shows a mass of waving arms at the moment the missile was released and using the footage to bring charges is seemingly impossible.
Garrido, an unused substitutes in the game, expressed his anger yesterday. "I have been in England for two seasons and this was the match with more fanaticism than any other," he said. "This atmosphere was incredible with insults flying as soon as we arrived at the stadium. I was hit by a coin [on] the head when I was just walking calmly down the tunnel and I believe that the target was Carlos Tevez." The missile left Garrido with a cut beneath the hairline.
"This was [observed] by Manchester United staff but nobody offered any kind of reason. It's incredible that this could take place at Old Trafford, one of the biggest stadiums in the world.
"Manchester City have not provoked any of this controversy and United have created a climate of hostility against us. We have received insults on the bench during all the match but I never would have thought that situations like this would happen at Old Trafford. Really, it's very sad."
The FA yesterday continued its investigation into allegations that Blackburn Rovers' El Hadji Diouf hurled racist abuse at a ball boy who did not return the ball to the player's satisfaction in the 3-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park. Merseyside Police interviewed the 13-year-old ball boy yesterday, as well as the linesman, nearby stewards and fans.
United likely to be in the clear over Fornasier transfer
The chances of Manchester United facing sanctions over the transfer of Italy's Under-16 captain Michele Fornasier to Old Trafford from Fiorentina receded last night as Fifa indicated that action was not appropriate on the basis of the documentation the Italian club had provided.
Fiorentina who, under Italian rules, are unable to sign players until their 16th birthday, have been infuriated by the player's move, which saw United capitalising on a contractual loophole. Sources in Italy had suggested that the contractual positions of its young players were incomparable with those in France, where the move of Gael Kakuta from Lens to Chelsea has prompted a transfer ban to be imposed by Fifa. A Fifa spokes man said: "We were contacted by Fiorentina with regard to Michele Fornasier. [But] no formal investigation was opened, since the documentation in our possession is not apt to sustain such action."Reuse content