Palios insists FA had to make an example of Ferdinand

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The Independent Football

The Football Association chief executive, Mark Palios, has defended the decision to hand out an eight-month ban to Rio Ferdinand for failing to take a drugs test.

Manchester United branded the sentence as "savage and unprecedented" following this month's hearing in front of an independent three-man panel at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.

However, Palios insists it was right to make an example of Ferdinand, the England defender, in order to ensure such a thing does not happen again.

In an interview in the News of the World, Palios said: "I didn't feel pleased or vindicated. I actually felt quite sad because I know, up until now, football has been the loser. So I'm not looking to rub people's noses in it or say 'I told you so'. But if there is a positive in what has been a difficult year it is that we are at last on the right road.

"After this case, I don't think any club will allow a player to miss a drugs test again - and if a bus runs over me tomorrow and that is all we ever achieve then it was worth it for that."

Palios is also adamant that the FA had no option but to omit Ferdinand from the England squad to face Turkey in October when the controversy first erupted over his missed drugs test on 23 September. "I hope it's now understood that had we picked Rio for the Turkey game, the Association and the England team would have been compromised," Palios added.

Ferdinand's ban will come into force from 12 January, although the player has until a week before that date to lodge an appeal. Palios admitted the delay between the offence taking place and the player being sentenced was unacceptable and has vowed to speed up the FA's disciplinary procedures.

"One of the things we found with Ferdinand is that we had this rather pointless meeting about whether to charge, even though rules had clearly been broken," Palios said. "So, that is the type of thing that could go."

Ferdinand's team-mate Roy Keane has again expressed a desire to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as the manager at Old Trafford.

The United captain revealed last summer that he hopes to stay in the game in a coaching capacity once his playing career has finished. This season he has begun preparing for the future by studying for a Uefa coaching licence and his ambitions off the field clearly match his competitiveness on it.

"I have spoken to one or two people in the game and it is something which appeals to me - going down the road to becoming a manager," Keane said. "I wouldn't like to say for certain but it is definitely something in the back of my mind. I'd like to pass on the experience I have had - and I have been fortunate to play under some brilliant managers such as Sir Alex and Brian Clough.

"The challenge would appeal to me, and to be manager of Manchester United? Why not? Hopefully the boss will be here for a few more years but, yeah, it has crossed my mind. I am in the process, along with a few other players at United, of sitting my coaching badges over the next year or two and then who knows?"