Souness escapes third ban from touchline

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Graeme Souness escaped a third touchline ban in 18 months yesterday and was instead reprimanded and fined £10,000 by a Football Association disciplinary commission.

The punishment was delivered after the Blackburn manager admitted a charge of improper conduct towards a match official during Rovers' Worthington Cup tie against Wigan last December. The FA gave credit to Souness for admitting the charge, and made allowances for the fact the incident happened so long ago.

Souness was sent to the stands during the match by referee Andy D'Urso. He had become annoyed by an incident involving goalkeeper Brad Friedel and remonstrated angrily with the fourth official, Matt Messias.

The ruling means Souness has been given a clean slate for the new season, and the FA said in a statement: "In taking into account the length of time it had taken for the case to be concluded and the admission of improper conduct, the commission did not feel it was appropriate to impose a touchline ban on this occasion."

Souness' previous FA disciplinary hearing in October last year resulted in a three-match touchline ban and a £15,000 fine after he was sent off during Blackburn's 2-2 home draw with Liverpool two months earlier.

In April last year, Souness was also banned from the touchline for one match and fined £10,000 after being found guilty of misconduct.