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Fergie given extra time to answer charge

Sir Alex Ferguson will be granted a two-day stay of execution before he has to answer a potential FA disrepute charge...because he is on holiday.

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Known for his rigorous approach to timekeeping, Sir Alex has timed his holiday to coincide with the international break and will miss the seven-day deadline for him to respond to the FA, who are expecting him to explain his comments relating to the fitness of referee Alan Wiley.

Normally anyone facing such disrepute charges are given a week to give a written explanation, but an FA source has told ESPN Soccernet: "We understand that Sir Alex is on holiday as it's international week, so we have granted him some more time."

Sir Alex specialises in getting extra time on the field, and now he appears to have managed it off the pitch as well with the FA.

Ferguson caused a furore over his comments about Wiley - the referee who had the audacity not to add sufficient injury time to Saturday's match at Old Trafford against Sunderland to accommodate United's desire to nick a 3-2 victory from the jaws of a 2-2 disappointment.

"I was disappointed with the referee," Ferguson said. "He [Wiley] was not fit enough for a game of that standard. The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. You see referees abroad who are as fit as butchers' dogs. We have some who are fit. He wasn't fit. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player. He was needing a rest. It was ridiculous."

Former United defender Johnny Giles criticised Sir Alex in his column for the Dublin Evening Herald, describing how Ferguson's attack on Wiley was an attack on football itself. "Every time Ferguson lacerates a match official, he puts in a marker for the future and it seems to pay off. The minutes stretch to infinity at Old Trafford," Giles wrote.

And Prospect, the union that represents referees, also condemned Sir Alex and called on the FA to inflict a harsh punishment on the United manager.

But Ferguson has already called upon expert Graham Bean, of Football Factors, to defend him. Bean, the former policeman, was once the FA's long standing compliance officer.

"We can confirm that we have been contacted by Manchester United to look at the merits of the case," Bean told ESPN Soccernet.

Bean, who has been offering his services for three years, has defended Sir Alex successfully in the past, taking on four cases for the United manager since he left his post at the FA in acrimonious circumstances.


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