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Mr Wenger v The FA – the full 20 year history. And the world of the fake innuendo.

By Tony Attwood

As you will probably have seen Arsène Wenger was given a four-match touchline ban by the Football Association following the Burnley game.  Arsenal have said they will not appeal and so the ban starts today. Mr Wenger can sit in the stand and communicate with Steve Bould by telephone, or should the line be bad, by smoke signals, semaphore or other devices.

The long term stadium ban, which the Daily Telegraph was calling for, was not imposed.  The other matches affected are the games against Watford, Chelsea and Hull City.

Mr Wenger was also fined £25,000.  The FA made no comment about the fact that Mr Wenger claimed he did not know where it was supposed to go, and thought he could watch from the tunnel area.  He pointed out that the “not knowing where to go” issue arose the last time the FA tried to take action against him following his sending off at Manchester United for kicking a water bottle.  On that occasion the FA found him not guilty of anything other than making them look a bunch of idiots.

But clearly the FA are guilty of failing to clarify their regulations when they obviously know that there is muddle and confusion, and since they don’t like being made to look like a bunch of turnips they have struck back in the only way they know.  Punish Arsenal and get the press to join in.

Thus now we have this: The Guardian said of the hearing that “It was also noted Wenger had a reasonably clean recent disciplinary record.”

So let us see what “reasonably clean” actually means, or if it is a slur.

Sadly the Guardian gives no evidence for its use of “reasonably clean”, and in writing this I must admit I have found it hard to check for sure on Mr Wenger’s disciplinary record.  I have details of two other infringements, but nothing more, so I’d be very grateful to receive details of other times Mr Wenger has been up before the beak, so to speak.

The 2009 fiasco involved Mr Wenger being sent to the stands for kicking a water bottle.  He famously stood in the stand with his arms outstretched since there was no where else for him to go.  Now it seems that ludicrously, the FA failed to resolve although it has had eight years to do so.  But still, they move slowly in the FA.

League Managers’ Association chief Richard Bevan, said, after that incident, “I’ve spoken to Keith Hackett and he fully recognises the situation was an error and an apology will follow to Arsene Wenger,

“Lee Probert totally failed to manage the situation and created a needless pressure point taking the focus away from the pitch in a big event with only a minute to go.   Although correct in ‘law’, the decision was completely out of context in the game and it was followed by the nonsense which followed over where Arsene Wenger should sit.”

So clearly that case does not taint Mr Wenger’s record since he got the apology.  But what about other cases?

Well, there is only one other case I know of before that.

In August 2000 Arsenal played Sunderland.  It was suggested that after the game Mr Wenger, who until that moment had an utterly unblemished record as a manager,  had indulged in violent or threatening behaviour against  Mr Taylor, the fourth official at Sunderland.

On 10 October 2000 Mr Wenger went to a hearing on the issue but considering the matter utterly trivial given that there was no evidence against him, did not call any witnesses.   He then got a 12 match ban – which is interesting that the Telegraph has not mentioned as they have been asking for a 12 match stadium ban for this infringement.

Mr Wenger then appealed on 2 February 2001 and appeared complete with Thierry Henry, David Seaman and Robert Pires as witnesses.

Even before the final hearing got under way the charge was reduced to “improper conduct”.  In the event Mr Wenger was given a reprimand, fined £10,000 and ordered to pay the costs of the appeal board which consisted of Charles Hollander QC, Geoff Thompson chair of the FA and Ray Kiddell from the Norfolk FA.    Their finding was that Mr Wenger was guilty touching the official, and not “jostling or holding” him as Taylor had alleged.

Taylor had argued that he was “manhandled” by Wenger on in the tunnel after the 1-0 defeat on 19 August 2000.  But it emerged that although Thierry Henry and Darren Williams of Sunderland were involved in a bit of of tunnel pushing and shoving and that was all that happened.  Mr Wenger agreed that he then touched Taylor with a gesture that most people recognise not as manhandling but as “I’ll sort this out” and he then pulled Thierry away.

The FA accepted in the appeal that contact was “minimal”, and “not intended to be aggressive and not threatening or violent.”

But even then the fine was ludicrous for an action which had the effect of calming a situation which the fourth official could not handle, for it was clear from the second hearing that Taylor had lied in the hearing in terms of what he claimed against Wenger.  We waited to see what the FA would do with Taylor in this regard.

In fact they did nothing but for Referee Taylor, matters then got worse when he himself was charged with misconduct for insulting comments to Notts County’s Sean Farrell during the game against Wigan on October 14.  That was heard on 6 February 2001.

That case was found to be “not proven” after a four hour secret hearing.  Farrell said that, “The finding of not proven indicates the incident had to be witnessed by more than one person for an official to be found guilty. While Ian Hamilton and Scott Green were witnesses to the incident, they did not directly hear the remarks. I hope this result does not deter other players from coming forward when subjected to inappropriate behaviour.”

Notts County said in a club statement, “While respecting the difficult job referees have to carry out we think there must be a level of accountability in their performance. There is no question an incident took place. Those of us who watched the game and viewed the video could clearly see this. But only one person witnessed the actual remarks directly. His testimony alone did not constitute sufficient evidence by the FA’s standards to find the official guilty, only not proven.”

Mr Wenger said after his appeal hearing in that case, which lasted two days, “It was very important for me that the charge of threatening behaviour and violent conduct was dropped. When you get a 12-match ban and you have my clean disciplinary record, you have to look at why you got such a ban. The fact that I was charged with improper conduct means my reaction was too big. But as I got only a reprimand, I believe the FA recognised that my intention was clear. It was not to provoke violence but to avoid further violence in the tunnel.

So what we have is a man who after the Burnley match touched an official, which we all know is wrong.  But before then, in all this years in the Premier League, he has had just one reprimand, 16 years ago, and that for a situation in which he was reducing tension not heightening it.  Meanwhile the FA are clearly guilty of gross negligence in failing to clarify their own rules following the Man U affair.

As a result Mr Wenger will not be allowed in the dugout or on the touchline during the four matches of his suspension but he can speak to his players before and after them and, also, in the dressing room at half-time.

Mr Wenger apologised for his behaviour after the Burnley game. “I regret everything,” he said. “I should have shut up, gone in and gone home. I apologise for that. Look, it was nothing bad. I said something you hear every day in football. Overall, nine times out of 10, you are not sent to the stand for that. If I am, I am, and I should have shut up completely. I was quite calm during the whole game, more than usual. But just in the last two or three minutes.”

Even the vigorously anti-Wenger Telegraph has said today, “Another issue that has come out of this is there must be greater clarity on what happens when a manager is sent to the stands, as Wenger clearly did not know where he needed to go,” which at least is a step in the right direction.

I doubt if the Guardian will explain its “reasonably clean” comment, but if you know of other occasions where Mr Wenger has been found guilty for the FA of anything, it would be good to know, so we can complete the record.

Art3

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26 comments to Mr Wenger v The FA – the full 20 year history. And the world of the fake innuendo.

  • colario

    One of the spoofers on BBC radio 5 who was reporting on the game commented:

    ”Mr Wenger has a record of bad behaviour to the forth official”
    but as is the practice of spoofers he did not elaborate on his claim.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Cannot think of anything, but would not be surprised if he had been found guilty of stepping 0.5 mm outside his technical area, breathing within the vicinity of a fourth official, or plotting to defeat a media /FA darling.
    I hope he told them where to shove the job with the FAs failing international project , most recently derailed by Iceland.
    But, wait and see, the true punishment will be on the pitch,Atninson at Chelsea, Dean at WHL……we will soon hit that highly unusual 10penalties conceded mark should these sort of teams need any help.
    I am glad Wenger is not a quitter, or he would have left the shower of idiots that run football in this , in terms of the game, backward country well behind.
    Good luck Steve Bould, once a great no nonsense English type defender, today, he will help manage a team schooled partly on the philosophies dating back to Cruyff and Michels…..should be interesting, think he might do rather well

  • Yommex

    Wenger has succinctly explained what rule is applied to Arsenal.
    The 1 out of 10 rule is applied to Arsenal while others enjoy the 9 out of 10 rule.

    The 1 out of 10 rule PENALIZES an offence once out of ten times.
    The 9 out 10 rule PARDONS an offence nine out of ten times.

    Arsenal fans should always remember these rules whenever they are watching our matches so as to understand why referees officiate the way they do.

    NOTE: THE TWO RULES OVERRIDE EVERY LAW OF THE GAME!

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    @Yommex,

    That about covers it. I refer to it as sub rule 8b which is printed at the end of every one of the laws of football and says

    UNLESS AN ARSENAL PLAYER IS INVOLVED

  • Jacky

    This post has been deleted as it doesn’t follow our guidelines on commentaries vis a vis insulting other users of the site.

  • James

    Surely if the ref has control ( well sort of in mr moss case ) and the fourth official the touch line area, then it our ground staff who’s responsibility it is to clear the tunnel not the fourth official?

    Wenger only tried to get Taylor to continue to watch the game and rotate him ( I know he shouldn’t of course ) but you could argue that Taylor was out of his duristiction any way?

    A 4 game ban is unjustified imo.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    For heaven’s sake, when is Venus Williams going to win another grandslam final again as she got a rare chance for her now reaching a grandslam final at the Australia opens Ladies Singles Final match today when she met her young sister Serena, but still, she lost 4-6 4-6?

    The deed has been done. And I believe Le Prof, his backroom staff and the Gunners’ first team squad can and will deal squarely with this 4 match banning order imposed on Le Prof by the FA. And Arsenal will come out of the banning, home and dry without suffering any mishaps in the four games they’ll play, in which Le Prof has been restricted from sitting in the dogout or stand by the touchline to manage the Gunners during the playing of the four games but instead do the managing from the stand.

    Begining as from this evening at the ST Mary’s Stadium where Arsenal will play against Southampton for the collection of the FA Cup round 5th ticket, I can see the Gunners taking this four game banning order imposed on Le Prof as a challenge on themselves to come out in a massive way in the game than ever to put the Saints to the sword. And do the same thing to the other 3 teams they are billed to play against later on during the imposition of this banning order to utterly put our detractors to shame.

  • Menace

    The FA & PGMOL have done it again. Wenger can now write off £25000 tax & get a sabbatical of 4 match days with tax benefits. Doesn’t life have a wonderful way of rewarding the righteous.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    For heaven’s sake, when is Venus Williams going to win another grandslam final again as she got a rare chance for her now reaching a grandslam final at the Australian opens Ladies Singles final match today when she met her young sister Serena, but still, she lost 4-6 4-6?

    The deed has been done. And I believe Le Prof, his backroom staff and the Gunners’ first team squad can and will deal squarely with this 4 match banning order imposed on Le Prof by the FA. And Arsenal will come out of the banning, home and dry without suffering any mishaps in the four games they’ll play, in which Le Prof has been restricted from sitting in the dogout or stand by the touchline to manage the Gunners during the playing of the four games but instead do the managing from the stand.

    Begining as from this evening at the ST Mary’s Stadium where Arsenal will play against Southampton for the collection of the FA Cup round 5th ticket, I can see the Gunners taking this four game banning order imposed on Le Prof as a challenge on themselves to come out in a massive way in the game than ever to put the Saints to the sword. And do the same thing to the other 3 teams they are billed to play against later on during the imposition of this banning order to utterly put our detractors to shame.

  • finsbury

    Lol at Menace!

    They don’t like the Arsenal*
    We don’t care
    *I can think of hundreds of millions of explicable and rational reasons to explain why 😉

  • Vivek Arulnathan

    There have been a couple of occasions where Wenger has gotten away lightly….he appeared to push the fourth official in another game this season, was it Swansea at home? Not exactly sure. He got away with the push on Mourinho. So, while I agree the FA have been extremely incompetent with stuff like this, our manager doesn’t have as clean a record as people think. There are lines you aren’t supposed to cross and physical contact with a referee is on of them.

  • I am surprised to read your comment Vivek. It is very hard for anyone to miss being pushed – it is not like missing an offside decision when everything moves quickly and a player might be in the way, and I can’t quite understand how a 4th official would not then include it in his report. It would indeed be either flagrant bias or gross incompetence by an official not to report such a matter.

    I don’t know about the Mourinho issue either, but managers can and do come together to argue, and indeed push, but that is treated in the same way as players doing a bit of pushing and shoving in the tunnel – it is not an automatic punishable offence. Rather it is like players pushing each other back and forth while waiting for a free kick to come into the penalty like this.

    I would be most grateful if you could provide more information on the Swansea incident so we can indeed add it to the record of events which we have been keeping.

  • Vivek Arulnathan

    Tony, I tried finding the incident and it looks like the Stoke home game. Wenger appeared to push Paul Tierney. It’s nothing major but he appears to have done this a couple of times now and it’s not acceptable. From my memory, no action was taken against him for that. You just can’t make physical contact with the fourth official even if the officials are making horrendous decisions.

    The Mou incident was the one at Stamford bridge where Wenger clearly pushed him. But I have no complaints about that because Wenger deserves a statue for that alone.

  • austinpaul ojeaga ksp

    Our players must ce dis ban nd fine as an affront on d entire Club nd consequently display beta caramadrie, determination nd will to excel in d 4thcoming 4 matches; it is tym to claim nd sustain our present 2nd position whilst eyeing displacing Chelsky frm d top; no more mistakes nd stupid play dat will lead to red cards nd suspensions, every memba of d squad must b focused nd give 100+ to win d title frm now on, d title is ours dat am sure of bt den we nid full consentration by d players nd staff as well as unfliching support of D Fan base. Shalom!!!

  • Vivek what I am bemused about is a) how a push on an official could go unpunished, and b) how it could go unmentioned by the media, who normally are completely on Wenger’s back the moment he breaths let alone when he pushes an official. I am searching for it as well.

  • Scuba

    I don’t like the suggestion that ignorance of the rules is grounds for a lighter punishment, tbh. If Wenger didn’t know where to go, he should have been listening to Taylor. Frankly, though, he should know what to do if he’s sent off at this point in his career.

    That said, the punishment the media was calling for is ludicrous, especially the guy that suggested he should be forced to referee non-league matches as a result.

  • Scuba

    And it may be that that implication is not intended, but the way the third paragraph is worded, it seems to be

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice links, FIns . I remember feeling vindicated for the injustice that was perpetrated upon the Arsenal. And a few queries …… How many other teams have been docked points for similar offenses? Has any othe manager or team ever offered to replay a game which they on grounds that it may not have been deemed FairPlay? I wil await your replies .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    sorry.. which they had won , on grounds …..am of course referring to the Sheffield Utd FA Cup game .

  • Menace

    Scuba – you seem suddeny bright when discussing what Wenger should know. How do you consider referees talking to players rather than booking them? The players are professional, paid obscene amounts of money & must at least know the Laws of their profession.

    Need oxygen?

  • MickHazel

    I see the Arsenal hating pundit Chris Sutton said Wenger should have got a 12 match ban, comparing his slight push on Taylor to Di Canio when he pushed ref Alcock onto his arse.
    Sutton appears to hate Arsenal with a vengeance for some reason.

  • omgarsenal

    SCUBA….it is up to the FA to determine where a manager who has been ejected goes. Normally it is the dressing-room or the stands but as Tony’s article points out….they are unclear and typically Sweet FA when it comes to actually dealing with a potential issue. As you may or may not know, the ref does not give a card and only indicates that the person ejected leaves the areas where they are normally permitted. Wenger’s vast experience does not include being sent off very often and the sweet FA are more tight lipped than the PIGMOB about what to do.
    The Laws do not indicate where the non-playing field personnel (managers,trainers medics, etc.)go when they are sent off.

  • Richard

    Having seen the push on tv it’s not much and considering his record and conduct throughout his tenure, it is a surprise the punishment was so bad. Now he did wrong and admitted to that but when billions of pounds are spent in football and millions on football merchandise the competency of match officials has to be better. Let’s be honest that result and officiating could end up hurting Burnley a lot more than it could us. Clubs have lots to
    Lose from poor officiating and that also has a knock on affect on the fan base.

    On another note what a draw for the fa cup Sutton Utd away don’t think the ground holds many fans so away tickets are going to be at a premium, of course Sutton could chose to play at the emirates and get a bigger payday. Though they may feel their best and only chance is to play on the artificial pitch at a small tight ground will be more in their favour. Let’s hope for entertainment value they stay at gander green lane.

    Finally well done tony an excellent piece and when will the fav get their act together.

  • Michael Ram

    In the World Cup game where Luis Suarez handled the ball from going in, he was shown straight red card. However, he was standing in the tunnel and was shown celebrating after Ghana missed the penalty. So, doesn’t it mean a red card still allows you to stand in the tunnel?

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