Fine and dandy

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So Paul Jewell’s showdown with the authorities ended without so much as a whimper, let alone a bang.  The manager gets his day in court and a slap on the wrist, the referee an apology and we all get to go through it all again in a week’s time.  Only time will tell whether or not the outcome of the next hearing will be so amenable to the club.

It’s not clear what the panel thought of the basket of evidence that the club had prepared in Paul Jewell’s defence yesterday, the punishment suggests that they might have seen is point.  However it may well be that the £2k fine and suspended touchline ban were more reflective of the FA accepting that Jewell acted in the heat of the moment than any agreement over whether or not Mr. Dowd should be “locked up” for his decisions in the Arsenal game.

Jewell now has until 30th March to respond to similar charges brought because of his comments made to the press following the same game.  It’s likely that these will be the charges that matter.  To lay into someone face to face, in a manner that they have set the precedent for (he swore first Mr. Barwick, sir), is one thing, to wake up in the morning and start all over again is another.

The crux of the matter here is whether or not managers should be allowed to criticise the performance of referees.  Jewell said little more than (to paraphrase) ‘Referees get things wrong, they don’t do it on purpose, but some get things wrong more than others and Mr. Dowd is developing a habit of doing it in games featuring Latics’. 

You’d like to think that the FA will take a balanced view and see Jewell’s comments for what they were, a fairly accurate assessment of the situation.  The fear is that they will read between the lines and see the sentiment put forward by a large number of fans, that Phil Dowd is a crap referee, with something against either Wigan Athletic or Paul Jewell (or, I suppose, both).

If that’s the way things are going to go, then a key piece of evidence lies behind Jewell’s statement that the head referee had told him that they try to keep Dowd and Latics apart, but it was unavoidable for this game.  If that is the truth and Keith Hackett is prepared to confirm it, then how can the FA deny that there is something going on here?

Without that proof then it is likely that the punishment will be harsher this time around.  It’s likely that we’ll see a larger fine, the two games that have been suspended plus a few more thrown in for good measure.  No doubt this will lead to smug smiles in Staffordshire and a few more chips on shoulders at the JJB.

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