Kinnear charged over referee comments

Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association after describing Barclays Premier League official Martin Atkinson as a "Mickey Mouse" referee.

FA disciplinary chiefs wrote to the 61-year-old after the 2-1 defeat earlier this month to ask him to explain his comments.

And the Magpies' interim manager has now been charged and has until 12 December to respond.

An FA spokesman said: "Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear has been charged with improper conduct.

"The charge relates to comments made about referee Martin Atkinson in media interviews following Newcastle's match against Fulham on November 9.

"Kinnear has until December 12 to respond to the charge."

The former Wimbledon manager, who was appointed as Kevin Keegan's successor on an interim basis in September, was furious with Atkinson after he failed to award his side a free-kick for what he believed was a foul on defender Claudio Cacapa by Andrew Johnson in the build-up to Fulham's match-winning penalty.

He said after the game: "Cacapa was on the ball and Johnson completely pushes him out the way, nicks the ball and gets the penalty.

"We have got the Mickey Mouse referee doing nothing. He's made an error that cost us."

Kinnear has previously landed himself in hot water with the FA over comments made about officials.

Indeed, he spent his first two games in charge at St James' Park watching from the stands as he served a two-match touchline ban imposed for calling a referee "Coco the Clown" during his days at Nottingham Forest.

Atkinson, too, is no stranger to the wrath of managers with Sunderland boss Roy Keane having requested a personal hearing, which will take place on December 18, after denying a charge of improper conduct for comments made to the same referee at Chelsea on November 1.

Kinnear has already had too many dealings with the governing body for his own liking since his return to the game.

He was warned as to his future conduct within weeks of his arrival on Tyneside after a colourful press conference in which he made his feelings known in unequivocal terms after a less than effusive reaction to his appointment by some sections of the national media.

The former Tottenham and Republic of Ireland defender has been in charge for eight games to date and has two victories and four draws - the last of them at Chelsea on Saturday - to his name.

However, he will take his side to derby rivals Middlesbrough on Saturday having seen them slip back into the relegation zone despite their heroics at Stamford Bridge.

Kinnear has been handed another month's contract as efforts to sell the club continue, although Keith Harris, the investment banker charged with the task of finding a buyer, has admitted a deal is unlikely to be struck until February at the earliest.