United manager under fire over BBC boycott

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson was criticised for the first time by the Premier League yesterday for failing to end his feud with the BBC and grant the corporation an interview after his Manchester United side's 2-2 draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage.

It had been hoped in some quarters that Ferguson would end his six-year boycott of the BBC that dates back to a documentary made about the Scot and his agent son Jason in 2004. However, United officials made it quite clear to BBC reporters before the game at Fulham yesterday that Ferguson would not be complying with their wishes.

The Premier League said that they were "disappointed" by Ferguson's decision but did not confirm that he will now be subject to a fine for failing to speak to one of the league's rights-holders as is expected to be the case under new guidelines this season. A Premier League spokesman said: "The Premier League is disappointed that the BBC and Manchester United have, as yet, been unable to resolve the issue of Sir Alex Ferguson providing post-match interviews.

"We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and offer any help deemed necessary by either party to try to help remedy the situation. However this is a breach of Premier League rules and the board will consider the appropriate course of action at their next meeting scheduled for late September."

Ferguson's team twice conceded a one-goal lead to Fulham who grabbed a 2-2 draw with Brede Hangeland's 89th minute equaliser. United also missed a penalty in the 86th minute with the score at 2-1. Ferguson said that Ryan Giggs, a second-half substitute, rather than Luis Nani, whose shot was saved by David Stockdale, should have taken the kick.

Ferguson said: "To miss a penalty kick to make it 3-1, you're throwing two points away there I'm afraid. I thought Ryan should have taken it. In the last game we played against Tottenham at home Ryan scored two penalty kicks and Nani was on the pitch the same day. Maybe Ryan should have taken it."

Paul Scholes opened the scoring for United in the first half. Simon Davies equalised for Fulham just before the hour. United looked to have won it when Hangeland scored an own goal with six minutes of the game left to play. Ferguson said: "You don't want to be dropping silly points and we dropped silly points [yesterday]. We can't escape that. There was an opportunity to go 3-1 ahead with three minutes left and we didn't take it.

"I don't think we deserved to be in front at 2-1 but when you get the opportunity to seal the game with that penalty you should be taking it. It was a missed opportunity I feel and it galvanised them, got the crowd up and they scored the equaliser in the end. In fairness to them they were the better team in the second half. They caused us a lot of problem, particularly [Bobby] Zamora who was very good for them. We can't complain in terms of the run of the game."

Despite the absence again of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Fulham manager Mark Hughes said that it was "not a foregone conclusion" that Schwarzer would be leaving for Arsenal. Hughes said: "The boy's not fit at the moment. We're all aware of Arsenal's interest. He's an outstanding goalkeeper and they obviously feel they have an issue with their goalkeeper. I just want to protect my football club and make sure that we don't weaken or lessen our squad with any departures."