Keane was sent off on Wednesday night after stamping on Gareth Southgate in the semi-final replay with Crystal Palace at Villa Park. Palace's Darren Patterson, who was dismissed for his part in the subsequent mle, has also been charged.
The incident shamed a match that had been preceded by appeals for peace following the death of a Crystal Palace supporter before Sunday's drawn first game. While the disciplinary commission that will hear Keane and Patterson's cases is independent of the FA, it is bound to be influenced by the anger evident in the FA's statement, one of its strongest in recent years.
Both players have a fortnight to reply to the charge, a hearing will be arranged soon after. They are already banned for three matches having been dismissed for violent conduct. Any further suspension would be served after that ban. The three-match ban, which begins in 12 days' time, rules Keane out of games with Coventry, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday. After that United have only one game, at West Ham, before the final. Thus a two-match ban would force him out. It would seem that when United get measured for their Wembley suits, Keane can take the day off.
Keane's personal disciplinary record is unlikely to help him. He was suspended for passing 21 disciplinary points in January and, despite an injury-hit season, is only one booking from passing 31 points. His was United's fifth dismissal this season. There have also been countless bookings and United are in danger of being one of the clubs called before the FA at the end of the season to be cautioned - and possibly fined - for their disciplinary record.
It is an unedifying prospect and United's snarling image on the field is causing increased disquiet in the Old Trafford boardroom. On Monday, Bobby Charlton, now a club director, said on ITV's Sport In Question that the board had reminded Alex Ferguson, the manager, of the need for his players to behave themselves. A further reminder is clearly required, ideally in the form of a self- imposed suspension for Keane.
Meanwhile, Patterson yesterday warmed-up for his hearing with an appearance before the FA for passing 41 points. He was suspended for one game (against Queen's Park Rangers on Monday) and was fined £150. Missing next Thursday's match against Crystal Palace is Tim Sherwood, the captain of Blackburn Rovers, who was fined £1,000 and suspended for one match for passing 41 disciplinary points.
Further fall-out from the semi-finals is anticipated, with Tottenham about to formally complain about an alleged assault on Jrgen Klinsmann by Everton fans after Sunday's other tie. The matter does not appear in the referee's report but Andy Hinchcliffe's alleged insulting behaviour to Tottenham fans, already the subject of a complaint by West Yorkshire police, is mentioned. The FA has yet to decide what action to take.
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"The two players were sent off on a night when the need for self control was paramount. It is vital that the FA takes a stand. It is no use condemning misbehaviour unless we are prepared to act. We are. The two players concerned disregarded the pleas for good behaviour made by, among others, their own managers. I do not believe there can be any credible argument against the action we are taking. In our view there is a case to answer before a commission."
Graham Kelly, the FA chief executive, on the Keane/Patterson dismissalsReuse content