Joey Barton was last night considering whether to appeal against the ground-breaking 12-game suspension he was handed by the FA for his sending off at Manchester City on the final day of the Premier League season.
Barton had a seven-and-a-half-hour hearing with a three-man Regulatory Commission at Wembley yesterday over the incidents in which he elbowed Carloz Tevez, kneed Sergio Aguero and then appeared to aim a headbutt at the City captain, Vincent Kompany.
The Queen's Park Rangers midfielder did not contest the red card he received over Tevez, his second of the season, which automatically meant he would have to serve a four-game ban at the start of next season.
He also accepted a charge of violent conduct for the clash with Aguero as he made his way off the field. However, he did contest the second count of violent conduct for the incident with Kompany.
That, and the unprecedented length of the ban, could yet mean Barton appeals against the decision.
The Football Association confirmed last night that there is a procedure for the 29-year-old former Manchester City and Newcastle midfielder to appeal. As well as being banned for 12 games, Barton was also fined £75,000 for a display that the commission believes has tarnished the game.
"There are rules of conduct that should be adhered to," said the chairman of the commission. "Such behaviour tarnishes the image of football in this country, particularly as this match was the pinnacle of the domestic season and watched by millions around the globe."
The three-man panel will release its written reasons in full by the end of the week, and at that point Barton and his legal team are expected to decide on their next move.
Unlike the case of the Luis Suarez ban, where the Liverpool forward was suspended for eight games for racial abuse of Patrice Evra, there is no need to produce a 115-page report and that is expected to speed up the process of assessing the case.
Barton was dismissed in the 55th minute of Rangers' 3-2 defeat at the Etihad Stadium on 13 May. He was sent off when the scores were level at 1-1, with City desperately fighting for the title and QPR scrapping for their Premier League lives.
He was first caught by Tevez and then retaliated, lashing out with his arm, for which the referee Mike Dean produced a straight red card. Only then did he clash with Aguero, sending the Argentinian forward to the ground before he appeared to aim his head at Kompany. Finally he was led off the field by the Rangers back-room staff and his former City team-mate Micah Richards.
Rangers themselves are set to launch an internal investigation into the incident, but they will only start that once the FA hearing is unchallenged.
Barton is one of the best-paid players at Loftus Road, on a basic of around £65,000 a week, having moved on a free transfer from Newcastle last August when Neil Warnock was still in charge.
The length of the ban will rule him out until the end of next October and there are now doubts about his future at the club under the new manager, Mark Hughes.
Barton apologised on the day of his dismissal at Manchester City on his Twitter account when he wrote: "Can do nothing but apologise to the players and the fans. Still don't think its a sending off. Tried to take one of their players with me."
His tweet went on: "The head was never gone at any stage, once I'd been sent off one of our players suggested I should try to take one of theirs with me."