Vieira and Gregory wait to learn fates

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The Independent Online

John Gregory, the Aston Villa manager, and Patrick Vieira, the Arsenal midfielder, must wait through the holiday period before learning if they are to be charged by the Football Association after Boxing Day incidents.

Gregory faces the threat of his second touchline ban in two years after being ordered out of the dug-out during his side's defeat at home to Liverpool for verbally abusing match officials.

Vieira was pictured with his elbow directed towards Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's face during his team's win over Chelsea at Highbury.

While action may now be taken against Gregory, Vieira could escape a charge on the basis that there may not be any clear evidence against him. However, both must still wait until the new year before learning their fates. An FA spokesman confirmed: "We are waiting to receive the reports from the officials."

Gregory was ordered out of the dug-out at Villa Park by the referee, Andy D'Urso, after verbally abusing the referee's assistant, Ray Gould, over a 34th-minute penalty awarded against his team.

Gregory, who was handed an 11-match touchline ban two years ago for comments made to D'Urso and was warned about his future conduct by the FA in March, realises he could face FA action.

"I must have hit a nerve with the linesman because he took umbrage at my comments and now I suppose that I'll be in trouble again," he said.

"That is not something I'm proud about but I was only stating my opinions and I think I'm entitled to do that. The linesman concerned had made two gross errors in a short space of time.

"When I queried whether I could return to the dug-out in the second half, I was told no. So no doubt I will be reported in Mr D'Urso's comments to the FA."

After the game, Gregory said of D'Urso, who had been hit by a throw-out from Peter Schmeichel which led to Liverpool scoring their first goal through Jari Litmanen: "He showed superb control to bring the ball down like that. After that, I honestly feel it was a bit rich when he shouted: 'Go on Jari, stick the ball in the net'."

Vieira was involved in two controversial incidents at Highbury, with Graeme Le Saux booked for an ugly knee-first challenge on the Frenchman that precipitated a brawl.

While Le Saux could have been sent off, that incident will not be studied by the FA as the referee, Graham Barber, dealt with it. Barber, however, is not believed to have witnessed the encounter between Vieira and Hasselbaink shortly beforehand, but it was seen on television and a picture appeared in some newspapers, which could lead to the FA asking its video advisory panel to look at a replay.

Graeme Souness's attempt to sign Andy Cole from Manchester United is running into money trouble at Ewood Park over the England striker's wages. The Blackburn manager hoped to push through a deal on Boxing Day, using the £8m-plus transfer funds he has available, but he is now facing problems matching Cole's terms.

Although Blackburn will pay the fee United are looking for, the board is thought to be unwilling to give a long-term deal to Cole, who is 30 and will want a huge financial package. Against that, they must balance the fact that a failure to back Souness might lead to a falling-out with their manager.

Blackburn are the main bidders for the out-of-favour England international. Aston Villa are also thought to be interested, although they must sell before they can buy.

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