Rio facing ban


LONDON, January 27 – Rio Ferdinand was left facing the prospect of a three-match ban after being charged with violent conduct on Tuesday by the Football Association (FA) and so missing Wednesday's League Cup semi-final against Manchester City.
The Manchester United defender faces disciplinary action after clashing with Hull forward Craig Fagan during the second half of Saturday’s 4-0 Premier League victory at Old Trafford that saw champions United return to the top of the table.

England international Ferdinand has until 1800GMT Wednesday to respond to the charge.

Ferdinand has the option of accepting the charge, for which the standard punishment is a three-game ban, by pleading guilty, or contesting the decision, which would lead to a disciplinary hearing on Thursday.

The FA, after initial confusion about the start date of any ban, said Tuesday that if Ferdinand pleaded guilty before 1800GMT Wednesday he would still miss the League Cup semi-final second leg at home to Manchester City.

But should he appeal and play against City, he runs the risk of an extended ban if officials believe his contesting the decision was merely a way to play in the derby by delaying implementation of the ban.

Were Ferdinand to accept an immediate ban, he would be ruled out of the matches against City, Arsenal and Portsmouth at Old Trafford on February 6.

Should he play against City, the third match of any suspension would be against Aston Villa on February 10.

Ferdinand has only recently returned to action after three months out with a back injury and United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has no doubt over the importance of the player he signed for 29.1 million pounds from Leeds to his team.

"Rio’s performance level is important," said Ferguson. "It is important to have him back because getting the centre-halves fit is key to our progress this season."

City, bidding for the first major trophy since winning the 1976 League Cup, are 2-1 up after the first leg.