Garcia and Mullins seek Cup final clemency from FA

Click to follow
The Independent Football

West Ham United and Liverpool have formally lodged appeals with the Football Association against the red cards which threaten to keep Hayden Mullins and Luis Garcia out of next month's FA Cup final.

The midfielders were sent off after clashing nine minutes from time in Liverpool's 2-1 win at Upton Park on Wednesday night. The automatic three-match ban would rule them out of next month's final, and the clubs have claimed wrongful dismissal in both cases.

Garcia was punished for elbowing Mullins in the back and retaliation - pushing the Spaniard in the face - earned the Hammers player a red card for violent conduct from the referee Howard Webb.

Their cases will be heard by an FA disciplinary commission today. Alan Pardew, the West Ham manager, said after the match: "By the letter of the law, perhaps they should have been sent off - but we are all in agreement the FA should show some clemency on this.

"We are both playing each other in the final so it is not affecting anybody else. A tiny little incident has cost them both a very special day. It was a little moment but as it stands at the moment they will both miss out, which will be a big, big shame and take away from what I think will be a terrific final.

"There is not much we can do. We will appeal and express our feelings and I hope there is some common sense there and that they will show some sympathy.

"I hope it can be downgraded. If they want to do three matches, maybe two this year and one next year."

Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, suggested the FA should follow the Spanish system and judge the situation on its merits. "In Spain we have the possibility of banning for two games, three games, four games. Suspending the players for two games [and leaving them available for the final] would be enough because it was not a serious incident," he said.

"We will try to appeal. We know how important the final is."

In Scotland, the Scottish Premier League has signed a two-year extension to its current television deal with Setanta Sports.

The new agreement, which runs until the end of the 2009/2010 season, is worth £54.5m over four years - the biggest in the history of Scottish football.

In addition to covering the current 38 live games per season, Setanta will feature a further 22 live matches between non-Old Firm clubs taking the number of televised games to 60 per year.

Lex Gold, the SPL executive chairman, said: "I am delighted that we have agreed an extension to our contract. Setanta Sports has been an excellent partner delivering great coverage of the league with excellent production values.

"It is no secret that a number of our clubs have faced a tough time financially. This £54.5m deal is the biggest in the history of Scottish football and provides a very welcome boost for our clubs. It also answers the call from supporters for more coverage of games that do not involve the Old Firm. It is a good day for the SPL, our clubs and their supporters, Setanta Sports and for Scottish football."

Trevor East, Setanta's director of sport, added: "A good season just got better. This brings our investment in the Scottish Premier League to £71m."

In Germany, Bayern Munich have bought out TSV 1860 Munich's share in the new Allianz Arena for €11m (£7.7m) to save the Lions from the threat of bankruptcy. Bayern and 1860 co-owned the new stadium, which was built for around €300m (£210m) and will host the opening match of the forthcoming World Cup.

The smaller club have seen their hopes of promotion back to the Bundesliga slide as the season has gone on and they may yet even be demoted to the third division.