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Premier League

Kinnear fined £500 by FA

Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear has been fined £500 and warned as to his future conduct for calling Martin Atkinson "a Mickey Mouse referee".

The 62-year-old admitted a charge of improper conduct after launching an attack on Atkinson's performance in the 2-1 defeat at Fulham on 9 November and received his punishment after appearing before a Football Association regulatory commission today.

However, a charge of using abusive and insulting words towards a match official during his side's 2-2 home draw with Stoke on 6 December was found "not proved".

An FA statement said: "At a regulatory commission hearing today, Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear was fined £500 and warned as to his future conduct.

"Kinnear admitted a charge of improper conduct relating to media comments made about referee Martin Atkinson after Newcastle's match against Fulham on November 9.

"Kinnear denied a further charge of using abusive and insulting words towards a match official relating to Newcastle's match against Stoke City on December 6.

"Kinnear was sent to the stands during this match after contesting the award of a free-kick. The commission found this charge not proved."

The outcome will come as a boost to Kinnear, who is facing a further charge of improper conduct after clashing with Hull boss Phil Brown on the touchline during his side's 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay defeat at St James' Park on January 14.

Having been warned as to his future conduct following an early tirade at sections of the written media only weeks into his reign, which started with an outstanding two-match touchline ban, the former Wimbledon boss quickly found himself in hot water.

He was charged in the wake of the Fulham game when he complained about Atkinson's decision not to award a free-kick for a foul on Claudio Cacapa in the run-up to what proved to be Danny Murphy's match-winning penalty.

Kinnear made his feelings clear in his post-match press conference and had little choice but to admit the offence.

However, he hotly disputed the charge with which he was hit after the Stoke game.

The Newcastle bench were furious with referee Mike Riley's decision to award a free-kick for Sebastien Bassong's challenge on Ricardo Fuller after Glenn Whelan's resulting free-kick was stabbed home by Abdoulaye Faye to deny the Magpies a precious victory.

Kinnear has until 3 February to respond to the outstanding charge.

Meanwhile, Magpies owner Mike Ashley is ready to take a more hands-on role at St James' as the club attempts to drag itself out of trouble.

The billionaire held lengthy talks with Kinnear and managing director Derek Llambias last night as they discussed their current transfer targets as well as their determination to hang on to keeper Shay Given amid Manchester City's ongoing courtship.

It is understood Ashley could even be in the directors' box at Eastlands for the Barclays Premier League clash with City tomorrow evening, business commitments permitting.

He has not attended a Newcastle game since the trip to Arsenal on 30 August, around a fortnight before he announced his decision to sell the club in the wake of a fans' backlash over Kevin Keegan's departure as manager, having now decided not to pursue the sale.