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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Man U vs Chelsea Battle Of The Bridge Date Set

Not that these things are dragged out or anything, but almost eight months after the Battle of the Bridge’, a date has finally been set for the hearing into the bust-up between Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell.

Yes, that’s right, this one’s still going on. Whilst bans can be swiftly arranged for both Drogba and Ferguson for their recent charges, the ‘Chelseagate’ affair has been going on since Chelsea’s 2-1 win over United in April.

So what’s taken them so long? Well, for a start there was the apparent cock-up with Bethell’s contract, with Chelsea failing to include the fact that their groundsman was subject to the governing body’s rules and regulations. So, despite charging Bethell with improper conduct and the use of racially aggravated language, a quick peek at his contract showed the FA didn’t actually have the authority to do so and whilst Bethell seemingly got a let-off, the FA did an about-turn and brought charges against Chelsea instead.

Meanwhile in the red corner, Patrice Evra has denied his charge of improper conduct and although he apparently isn’t going to say Bethell racially abused him – United are. Because, during the brawl which was caught on cameras inside Stamford Bridge, it’s alleged Bethell was heard calling Evra a “f***ing immigrant” within earshot of United assistant manager Mike Phelan. Not only that, but Paul Scholes, Park Ji Sung, John O’Shea, Danny Welbeck and Gary Neville were all in the vicinity as well. So, even if Evra’s planning to play it down and say he just lost his rag because the groundsmen were on a bit of a wind-up, there might be plenty who could say they heard different.

Not that Bethell is worried about that of course, because not only has he always shrugged off his behaviour as ‘handbags’ but he also seems to have the support of his employers despite it seeming to be pretty poor PR on their part. You see, no doubt advised by the PR nightmare that is Peter Kenyon, on the charges of failing to ensure Bethell conducted himself in an orderly fashion and failing to include the necessary provisions in his contract – both of which aren’t really disputable – Chelsea have decided to deny them anyway.

Not exactly the club’s brightest idea really but then again neither is their insistence that they would never condone racist behaviour if the evidence against Bethell really is that overwhelming and they’ve failed to deal with him in the past eight months.

The two day hearing is set for December 4th and 5th and this time, there could be some serious punishments dished out.


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