Clubs unite to oppose charges for Wenger and Pardew

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The Independent Online

The Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and West Ham United's Alan Pardew were yesterday charged with improper conduct by the Football Association following their touch-line bust-up on Sunday.

The charges came as a surprise to both clubs. West Ham said that they were "astonished" at the decision and would contest the case vigorously, with Pardew certain to request a personal hearing.

In a statement the FA, which had spent two days reviewing video footage after receiving reports from the referee Rob Styles and the fourth official Andy D'Urso, said of the managers: "The charges relate to their alleged aggressive and confrontational behaviour towards the end of the match."

The two managers had to be separated after Wenger reacted to Pardew's celebrations in the technical area following Marlon Harewood's late winner for West Ham. Pardew has since apologised although Wenger, who refused to shake his hand, has steadfastly declined to comment.

The League Managers Association is set to attempt mediation.

The West Ham managing director Paul Aldridge reacted to the charges by saying: "We believe Alan Pardew did no more than celebrate in a passionate manner following a crucial goal in a London derby. Alan Pardew has the full backing of the board with regards to this charge, which will be defended vigorously."

Wenger and Pardew have until 23 November to respond and, should the charges be proven, could face either a fine and a written warning or a touchline ban.

At the same time the consortium headed by the Icelandic businessman Eggert Magnusson hopes to table a recommended bid for West Ham before the end of next week. Yesterday Magnusson's advisers began the process of due diligence and looking in to the club's books and have decided upon an accelerated timetable to try to push through the £75m takeover.

Magnusson feels certain that he has made a breakthrough after a surprise meeting with the chairman Terry Brown on Monday. With the consortium headed by Kia Joorabchian stalling after trying to renegotiate the asking price, Magnusson, who would become West Ham's new chairman should he succeed, now believes that he is in pole position and wants to seize the initiative.

Joorabchian's main backer, the property magnate Eli Papouchado, flew into London on Tuesday evening to decide on their next move. But they have received a severe blow with the apparently definitive statement from Government and 2012 officials that they will not be allowed to use the Olympic Stadium.

After due diligence Papouchado also wants to pay at less than the agreed £75m plus taking on the club's debts of £23.5m. The sticking point is mainly the £4m outstanding on the transfer fee paid for Dean Ashton.

As yet no formal bid has been tabled by anyone. Magnusson, who is head of his country's football association and a key Uefa delegate, yesterday stepped up his campaign to take control with a statement confirming his main backer's interest and credentials. Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, chairman of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki, is said to have "given Mr Magnusson his full and absolute support". Gudmundsson is extremely wealthy in his own right and is using his own, and not the bank's money. The statement added: "Mr Gudmundsson is known in Iceland for his love of football. As a young man he played for the country's oldest club, KR in Reykjavik, where he later became the chairman."

There also remains the possibility of other bidders especially as no deadlines have been set by West Ham. Brown is understood to have claimed that a would-be American buyer has recently made contact while an intriguing prospect would involve the former West Ham player Tony Cottee. He is believed to have helped to get Magnusson involved in the first place - and was named in the original consortium - but is no longer involved with the Icelandic group.

It could be that Cottee, and other backers who have been left behind by Magnusson as he reorganised his consortium and refinanced his bid, will now proceed and mount their own takeover offer. Many club sources, however, still feel it is unlikely that any of the interested parties will be able to agree a deal to take over the club.

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