Fast-track red-card scheme reduces right to appeal

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The Independent Online

Players shown a red card next season will automatically be banned for the following match, the Football Association announced yesterday.

Players shown a red card next season will automatically be banned for the following match, the Football Association announced yesterday.

The fast-track system brings the English game in line with a Fifa directive and aims to remove the farcical situation of players being banned months after an incident took place - and sometimes, as in the case of Chelsea's Joe Cole, when they have changed clubs. Last season Cole was banned eight months after an incident took place when he was at West Ham United.

The FA said players' rights to appeal, including personal hearings, will be vastly reduced under the pilot scheme, which will be reviewed next summer and covers the Premier League, Football League and Conference. Players can appeal against a ban only on the grounds of wrongful dismissal or mistaken identity, but must do so by noon the day after the match.

"The main objective was to improve the speed and clarity but not at the expense of fairness," said the FA's project manager Brendan Batson, who warned that players who launched "frivolous" claims in order to delay bans risked having the suspensions increased. Charges relating to sending-off offences such as spitting or violent conduct that were missed by the referee but caught on video will now be issued within two days.

If the player denies the charge, a disciplinary commission will hear the case within a week. Neither the FA nor the players will be entitled to legal representation at such a hearing. "One of the delays in the past has been due to the involvement of lawyers, sometimes unnecessarily so," Batson said.

The Video Advisory Panel, which previously only offered recommendations, has been discontinued in favour of a Disciplinary Commission. Former England manager Graham Taylor, plus former players Robbie Earle and Gary Mabbutt, are among the new pool of "lay people" who will look at cases.

For offences outside the jurisdiction of match officials, such as incidents after the final whistle, charges will be issued within two days.

Under the old system, suspensions came into effect only two weeks after the match. But last season the FA took over two months to deal with an ugly incident between Arsenal and Manchester United players at Old Trafford in September.

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