The Football Association says it will consider appealing against an independent commission verdict that cleared the Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his assistant Carlos Queiroz of improper conduct.
The pair were charged over comments made following United's FA Cup defeat by Portsmouth on 8 March. Ferguson's charge concerned comments about referee Martin Atkinson and referees' general manager Keith Hackett and Queiroz's charge related to comments about Atkinson. At an independent regulatory commission hearing on Wednesday the charges were found not proved.
The FA has confirmed it has the option to appeal – and refuted suggestions that a transcription error led to the pair being found not guilty. The governing body will await receipt of the full judgment before considering further action.
As for suggestions that the FA's case failed because its belief that Queiroz described Atkinson as a "robber" proved to be incorrect, the FA maintains that the charge did not centre solely on that alleged comment.
"The charges were brought on more than just the issue of the word 'robber'," an FA spokesman said. "At any disciplinary hearing the FA, as the prosecutor, argues its case, as does the defence. The fact that the commission found the charge was not proved does not mean that the FA made any errors in putting the case together."
Speaking after Sulley Muntari's penalty gave Pompey victory at Old Trafford, Ferguson felt his side earlier had a spot-kick denied when Cristiano Ronaldo was blocked by Sylvain Distin. Ferguson said: "Managers get sacked because of things like that and he's going to referee a game next week." He added: "He [Hackett] is not doing his job properly and he needs to be assessed."