Fulham react to FA charges by fining brawlers

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The Independent Online

Fulham have brought in lawyers for advice on the best way to fight a mass of Football Association disciplinary charges which could also land their manager, Chris Coleman, and several of his players with major suspensions and fines.

Fulham have brought in lawyers for advice on the best way to fight a mass of Football Association disciplinary charges which could also land their manager, Chris Coleman, and several of his players with major suspensions and fines.

The Londoners are in trouble after Saturday's stormy 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion, when they had Papa Bouba Diop and Andy Cole sent off while Albion's Neil Clement was dismissed by the referee, Mike Dean, after one yellow card for diving and another for a professional foul on Luis Boa Morte.

Coleman, who said afterwards that he would not be disciplining his players for the fracas, may also be heading for a dispute with his chairman, Mohamed Al Fayed, since a statement released by the club yesterday confirmed they will "heavily fine" both Cole and Diop, who "should have known better than to react unlawfully".

Fulham do not, however, accept all the charges that have been brought. Albion's former Chelsea player Clement also faces disciplinary action.

A week before, Coleman had criticised another referee, Mark Halsey, for overturning a decision to give Fulham a penalty against Arsenal, having been influenced by "the reaction of the players". Arsenal went on to win 3-0.

The FA has instigated disciplinary proceedings against Coleman, alleging that his comments about Halsey brought the game into disrepute. More seriously, Fulham could be hit with a fine of £250,000 after Dean reported the whole team for what he called continual harassment during the match against West Brom. The charge is one of failing to control their players. Dean said: "It seemed to me that they went purposely, every time I gave a decision, to harass me throughout the game."

The Fulham statement said: "Fulham Football Club does not accept all the charges brought against them.

"Nevertheless, the club does not condone the actions of its players Papa Bouba Diop and Andrew Cole, who were dismissed from the field of play.

"Violent conduct, whether provoked or otherwise, is totally unacceptable to Fulham Football Club and both players are to be heavily fined by the club for their misbehaviour."

Fulham were enraged by a first-half penalty decision and had Collins John and Edwin van der Sar booked for protesting. Dean sent off Cole, who lashed out at Clement soon after the midfielder's cynical challenge on Boa Morte, and Diop for violent conduct after his clash with Purse. The former Wales international faces a touchline ban as well as a heavy fine. The FA, which has studied video evidence, is set to hear the case on 6 October.

Fulham will be without Cole and Diop when they travel to play Boston United at York Street in the Carling Cup tonight. The midfielder Lee Clark also misses out, having failed to recover from a calf injury while the playmaker Claus Jensen may figure, following a calf injury of his own.

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