Ferguson confident of escaping ban

Sir Alex Ferguson will plead guilty to the charge of improper conduct laid against him yesterday by the Football Association but remains convinced he can keep the punishment limited to a fine.

Referees have insisted that Ferguson should be handed a touchline ban – a punishment unprecedented for a manager who is brought before the FA for media comments – after his suggestion that Alan Wiley was physically unfit to referee Manchester United's match against Sunderland at Old Trafford. But the United manager remains confident that this will not be meted out and that he can keep the damage strictly financial.

The FA have given Ferguson two weeks to respond to their charge and do not expect a response from him until that deadline, regardless of his plea. Though a contested hearing seems improbable, it is likely he will seek a personal hearing to put forward his own mitigating case, as he sees it.

An appearance before the FA's independent regulatory commission will give him the chance to express his own view that a fair trial is impossible, given what he sees as a campaign being waged against him through the media by the referees' fraternity and by Prospect, the referees' union, in particular.

Ferguson, right, will discuss his next move with the club when he returns from United's Champions League tie in Moscow but his belief that he will receive only a fine flies in the face of demands from Prospect for something more severe and suggestions that Wiley should pursue the United manager through a civil court for libel if a ban of some description is not handed out. Either way, some substantial controversy appears to be stored up ahead, with media comments not yet subjected to the same fast-track procedures as touchline behaviour in the FA's disciplinary system.

First, Ferguson has the tricky obstacle of CSKA Moscow to negotiate, with a squad ravaged by injury. Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, Park Ji-Sung and Darren Fletcher were all absent from the squad which flew out yesterday. Dimitar Berbatov and Nemanja Vidic are still doubtful for the match but have made the trip to the Russian capital.

United have not won in five encounters against Russian opposition but Ferguson insists that the Luzhniki Stadium's plastic pitch should cause them no trouble. "I have no issues with the pitch in Moscow," Ferguson said. "When Luton and QPR had them all those years ago we always played well on them. We had a great record at those grounds and that was when the artificial pitches weren't as good. The one in Moscow has a far better covering on it."

The Luzhniki was a grass surface when United beat Chelsea on penalties in the Champions League final in the stadium in 2008 but Ferguson believes the plastic will suit United's style. "I [don't] see any issue with it at all. It was a passing surface," he said.

United lead Group B with six points but they may face a challenging evening against CSKA, who have won their last six European home matches.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
fashionA new dress to enrage the internet...
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own