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?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test