FA charges Bowyer and dismisses Dyer appeal

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The Independent Football

Lee Bowyer was yesterday charged with violent conduct by the Football Association following the on-field fight with his fellow Newcastle United midfielder, Kieron Dyer. Although Newcastle have made it clear that they feel Dyer was largely blameless, the FA separately rejected Dyer's claim for wrongful dismissal.

Lee Bowyer was yesterday charged with violent conduct by the Football Association following the on-field fight with his fellow Newcastle United midfielder, Kieron Dyer. Although Newcastle have made it clear that they feel Dyer was largely blameless, the FA separately rejected Dyer's claim for wrongful dismissal.

Both men were sent off after coming to blows in the home game against Aston Villa, shortly after Villa took a 3-0 lead. Bowyer, 28, who was fined six weeks' wages (£210,000) by Newcastle on Monday, has until 20 April to respond to the FA charge against him. The case is due to be heard by the FA's Disciplinary Commission on 22 April.

Dyer, 26, will now serve the mandatory three-match domestic ban for his dismissal, effective immediately. That means he will be suspended for Sunday's trip to Tottenham in the Premiership, the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United on 17 April, and the Premiership match at Norwich on 20 April.

Because of an earlier red card this season, Bowyer's red on Saturday earned an automatic four-match ban. He will miss the same games as Dyer plus the League match at Old Trafford on 24 April.

Under the terms of a violent conduct charge, the FA also has the option of extending Bowyer's ban and fining him. Those decisions will be taken on 22 April and the outcome will depend on Bowyer's plea and conduct during his hearing.

Newcastle are unlikely to appeal against any sentence handed out to Bowyer. However they released a statement saying they were "very disappointed" with the outcome of Dyer's appeal, especially because "the defence submitted by Dyer, considered to be very strong by the club, was dismissed. The club unfortunately has no other choice but to accept the decision as there is no right of appeal against the Disciplinary Committee's decision."

Bowyer and Dyer are both free to play in Newcastle's Uefa Cup quarter-final first leg against Sporting Lisbon tomorrow evening. The pair's long-term futures at St James' Park remain in doubt, however. Bowyer seems likely to be sold in the summer, while Dyer, whose contract expires in 2006, is stalling on an extension.

Newcastle's chairman, Freddy Shepherd, has already admitted that he came close to sacking Bowyer for gross misconduct. Although he stopped short of saying he regretted ever employing Bowyer, who has an ill-disciplined history, on and off the pitch, Shepherd added: "It was the right thing to do for the club at the time, but hindsight is a great management tool."

Brian Barwick, the FA's chief executive, refused to comment on the Newcastle players' situation as he left a Parliamentary committee inquiry into community sport yesterday. But while giving evidence at the Culture, Media and Sport hearing, he was questioned over footballers' responsibilities and defended the reputation of the game's professionals in general.

"All professional footballers have it as a contractual obligation to work with the community," he said. "A number of leading players will soon launch a testicular cancer campaign and last week there was a literacy campaign.

"As role models, they have a significant role to play. Sometimes that news doesn't make the headlines unlike the other stuff." Unfortunately for Barwick and the wider game, "other stuff" that involves team-mates - both England internationals - brawling with each other, in front of a live audience of 52,000 people during a game that was televised to millions around the world, does tend to draw attention.

As even Dyer has conceded: "Both Lee and I know that we have let a lot of people down." Speaking about the upturn in his form under Graeme Souness, he added: "I thought I had done the hard part in winning the fans over. I have put in a lot of hard work to do that and I've been really concentrating on keeping my head down and staying out of trouble. I've been enjoying making headlines for my football. I feel I have learned a lot in the past few months.

"I'm so upset that this has all happened just when everything seemed to be going so well for me here.

"I feel I've really responded to the new manager. I've done a lot of growing up but I know some people aren't going to see it that way."

Dyer denied the fight was prompted by any racial abuse, insisting he and Bowyer are friends and that it was "a flare-up out of nothing".

He added that he is determined to continue his rehabilitation at St James' Park, saying: "What I need to do now is to prove to everybody at the club that I can put this in the past and make it up to them all. And I intend to do that on the pitch."

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