'Abusive' Mills and Bowyer hit with FA charge

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The Independent Online

The Leeds United players, Lee Bowyer and Danny Mills, were yesterday charged with misconduct by the Football Association for using foul and abusive language towards match officials.

The charge, which carries a maximum three-match ban, is over incidents when the pair were dismissed for two bookable offences during the volatile clash with Arsenal at Highbury last month.

Bowyer is alleged to have sworn at the referee Jeff Winter, while Mills is said to have abused the fourth official, Andy D'Urso, in the tunnel. Both players, who served the initial one-game ban for their dismissals last Saturday, now have 14 days to respond and the Leeds manager, David O'Leary, says he will request personal hearings.

Leeds fear that the midfielder Bowyer and the right-back Mills will be the first victims of the FA's new disciplinary crackdown, as suggested by its chairman Geoff Thompson. The move follows widespread surprise at Arsenal defender Martin Keown's recent one-match ban for elbowing the Leeds striker Mark Viduka at Highbury last season.

"We talk about consistency from referees, but there should also be consistency from the FA," O'Leary urged. "I don't think anybody could believe the Keown verdict or the length of time it took for the hearing to take place. I just hope we have the people who covered the Keown hearing following his elbow in the face of Viduka."

O'Leary insists he does not condone foul language, but believes there are times when common sense needs to be adopted. "There's foul language and then there's stuff said in the heat of the moment in front of a passionate crowd. That's where common sense needs to come into play.''

West Ham United have completed the signing of the Czech international, Tomas Repka, for £5.5m. The Fiorentina defender passed a medical at Upton Park earlier in the week but only settled personal terms yesterday.

The Aston Villa midfielder, Lee Hendrie, is poised to sign a new five-year contract which will keep him at the club until 2006. Villa hope the England player will formally agree the deal next week.

Bolton have completed the signing of the French defender, Bruno N'Gotty, on a 12-month loan deal from Marseilles. The 30-year-old central defender, who has played for Lyon, Paris Saint-Germain and Milan, and has won six caps for France, has been on trial at the Reebok Stadium.

Jason McAteer's Blackburn Rovers' career looks to be over after the Republic of Ireland midfielder refused to play in the midweek Worthington Cup tie with Oldham.

The Rovers manager, Graeme Souness, was furious at McAteer and the player faces the prospect of playing no football for months. ''Jason asked not to be included in the game on Wednesday because he did not want to be cup-tied,'' an angry Souness said yesterday. ''He also told me he was going to be signing for someone on Thursday. Well, my phone was on all day and nobody rang me."

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