FA cracks down on Thatcher with eight-match ban

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The Independent Football

The Football Association has given Manchester City's Ben Thatcher an eight-game suspension for his assault on Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes at Eastlands last month. In addition, the FA has also handed Thatcher a 15-game ban, which will be suspended for two years and triggered should the defender ever commit a similar offence.

The 30-year-old defender was only booked at the time by referee Dermot Gallagher, who failed to spot the former Wales international smashing his forearm into Mendes' face as the pair chased after the ball during the second half of the goalless Premiership draw last month.

Aware of the severity of the incident, the FA lodged a charge of "serious foul play" against Thatcher. The FA's punishment is backdated to include the two matches Thatcher has served of a club-imposed suspension, meaning that the player will miss six more games.

The 15-game ban will be suspended for two years and will be activated should Thatcher find himself accused of violent conduct during the next 24 months.

City had already said that the former Leicester player would miss four games as punishment, with a further two suspended. Their manager, Stuart Pearce, expressed a wish last Friday that the FA should merely confirm the punishment City had imposed and allow the player to get on with his career.

Instead, the FA has apparently decided to make an example of Thatcher, offering the player a clear warning about his future conduct. Effectively, Thatcher will now not be available to play for City until the end of October, which must place a question mark over the long-term career of a player whose contract is due to expire in the summer.

Thatcher's representative yesterday gave a statement outside the FA's headquarters in Soho Square. He said: "Mr Thatcher accepts the FA's decision without question. He now wishes to serve his suspension, put the incident behind him and get on with his career."

A City spokesman said: "We note the findings of the disciplinary committee and are pleased the FA have taken our own disciplinary action into account."

Meanwhile, Manchester City have submitted a claim to the Football Association for wrongful dismissal following Ousmane Dabo's red card against Reading on Monday night.

The midfielder was shown a straight red card for serious foul play after he led with his arm in an aerial challenge with Steve Sidwell during City's 1-0 defeat at the Madejski Stadium.

It was City's second sending-off in just four games this season following Bernardo Corradi's dismissal in the opening-day defeat at Chelsea.

The case will be heard by an Independent Disciplinary Commission of the FA tomorrow.

The goalscorer in that match, Ivar Ingimarsson, believes Reading's home comforts and the decision of their manager, Steve Coppell, to stick with a largely "home-grown" squad will prove enough to keep them in the Premiership.

Icelandic centre-back Ingimarsson's brave first-half header - he did not see the ball go into the net after being knocked out by the challenge of Sylvain Distin - earned newly promoted Reading's second win of the season.

With 21 victories and no defeats in their last 29 home games, the Berkshire club have climbed to eighth in the Premiership with much the same group of players that won the Championship by a country mile last season.

Coppell's only notable summer signings were the South Korean winger Seol Ki-Hyeon, from Wolves, and the Brentford defender Sam Sodje, who is currently injured.

But Ingimarsson, Coppell's first signing for Reading in October 2003, said: "I think everybody here believes we are good enough to stay up.

"We know we have to still be strong at home and pick up points here, and it was very important to win again against City after two away defeats in a row.

"It is good for the players who won promotion last season that they have the confidence of the manager. OK, the club tried to sign a few more new ones in the summer but it seems they didn't really want to join us.

"I always think that is the problem for teams that come up. When they go for a new player those players normally pick clubs that have already established themselves in the Premiership.

"But the gaffer decided to go with us and we have tried to repay him for that. Now it is up to us to show we are good enough but we definitely deserve to be here the way we won the Championship last season."

"We are all confident we can stay up. We have the right mixture of players and the right mentality to prove ourselves and with the home form it is still so far so good," Ingimarsson said.