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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Muscat faces career-ending ban

Melbourne Victory skipper Kevin Muscat's horror weekend tackle could be his last A-League act, after the match review panel deemed it worthy of at least a six-match ban.

Muscat's fate will be decided by a disciplinary committee hearing in Sydney on Thursday night.

The panel met on Monday and declared the tackle which ended Melbourne Heart youngster Adrian Zahra's season an act of serious foul play.

They believed it warranted at least an extra five-match sanction, on top of the mandatory one-game ban for a red card offence.

That meant handing the matter over to the disciplinary committee, as Football Federation Australia (FFA) regulations do not allow the panel to dish out such a heavy penalty directly.

That gives Muscat, who apologised publicly on Sunday, the chance to plead his case directly to those deciding his future on Thursday night, although he does not have to attend the hearing.

The Victory were yet to decide on Monday night whether they would send a delegation to Sydney or participate in the hearing via teleconference.

With only four home and away matches left for fifth-placed Victory, a ban of six matches or more could prevent Muscat from playing again in the domestic competition this season.

With this most likely the 37-year-old's last season, that would also mean an end to his A-League career.

He would still be eligible to play in Victory's upcoming Asian Champions League campaign, which begins on March 1.

The three-man disciplinary committee, to be chaired by a senior legal figure, can take into account Muscat's past record and remorse shown, as well as the severity of the offence.

The tackle left Zahra with partial tears in several knee ligaments, wiping him out for the rest of Heart's inaugural A-League season, although he should be fit for the start of the next one.

Heart declined to comment on the panel's decision on Monday night, with a spokesman saying the club trusted the FFA to make the right call.

Victory also said they would not comment further until a final verdict is reached.

The panel also served Sydney FC goalkeeper Liam Reddy with a two-match suspension over an incident involving Central Coast Mariners striker Matt Simon on Sunday night.

Reddy was found guilty of assault on a player, with Sydney given until 1pm (AEDT) on Tuesday to either accept the ban or have the matter referred to the disciplinary committee.

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