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Kinnear charged over 'Mickey Mouse' comments

Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association after describing Premier League official Martin Atkinson as a ''Mickey Mouse'' referee.

Kinnear also described a decision by Atkinson to turn down a penalty appeal from Newcastle as "diabolical'' and FA disciplinary chiefs wrote to the 61-year-old after the 2-1 defeat earlier this month to ask him to explain his comments.

An FA spokesman said: "Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear has been charged with improper conduct.

"The charge relates to comments made about referee Martin Atkinson in media interviews following Newcastle's match against Fulham on November 9. Kinnear has until December 12 to respond to the charge."

Kinnear made his remarks after the official failed to award a free-kick to his team shortly before Fulham won the decisive penalty in last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage, but he has since shown contrition for his rant and apologised.

"I am sorry if my post-match comments at Fulham caused any offence and I will ring Martin Atkinson in person to tell him," he told the Newcastle Chronicle.

"I have accepted that some of my comments at Craven Cottage on Sunday were inappropriate and I will be calling Martin Atkinson to say that."

Kinnear is no stranger to controversy and began his reign at Newcastle with a touchline ban hanging over his head from his time in charge at Nottingham Forest, when he called another referee 'Coco the Clown'.

He also had a run in with the FA earlier this season when he filled a press conference at Newcastle's training ground with expletives, prompting a warning as to his future conduct.

Atkinson, too, is no stranger to the wrath of managers with Sunderland boss Roy Keane having requested a personal hearing, which will take place on December 18, after denying a charge of improper conduct for comments made to the same referee at Chelsea on November 1.

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