Alan Pardew was yesterday charged by the Football Association with misconduct for pushing Peter Kirkup, the referee's assistant, during his side's 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and is facing a two-game touchline ban.
The FA issued a non-standard misconduct charge for the incident, which occurred in the second half of the game at St James' Park. Pardew was sent to the stands by the match referee Martin Atkinson for the shove and watched the rest of the game from the directors' box.
It had been thought that the one-game ban handed to Arsène Wenger for his push on Atkinson at the end of Arsenal's game at Sunderland two years ago would act as a precedent. Wenger was also fined £8,000 for the push on Atkinson, who was the fourth official that day at the Stadium of Light.
However, Saturday's incident is not seen as comparable to Wenger's, with the shove having occurred on the side of the pitch and not while the manager and officials were heading towards the tunnel as happened with the Arsenal manager. The Pardew incident was also more widely seen.
The incident looks likely to result in a two-game ban for Pardew, but he has until 4pm on Thursday to contest the charge. He immediately apologised for his actions after his side's win on Saturday. He reacted when he felt his side should have been awarded a throw-in when Gareth Bale appeared to take the ball out of play. "I'm still embarrassed about what I did," he said. "I've never done anything like that before. I've apologised to him and I can't really do any more than that.
"Here's me telling my players this week to behave themselves, follow the Olympic spirit, be humble and do everything in the right way, and they did. Apart from me. It was a stupid moment. The linesman just happened to be standing right in front of me when I thought the ball was out. I gave him a little shove and unfortunately found myself in the stands. I apologised, 100 per cent it was silly. I've been to see him and we sort of smiled about it. What can I do? I can't turn the clock back so I have to take my punishment."
The immediacy of the apology will work in Pardew's favour. It remains to be seen whether he requests a personal hearing in front of the Independent Regulatory Commission, who will decide the level of punishment and whether a fine should follow as well. It is thought that will keep the punishment down to a two-game ban, rather than three, which remains a possibility.