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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January, 2005, 10:50 GMT
FA rejects accusation from Wenger
Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson
The Football Association has rejected Arsene Wenger's idea that comments made before matches are less likely to be punished than ones made afterwards.

Wenger hinted the FA should charge Sir Alex Ferguson with bringing the game into disrepute after the Manchester United boss branded him "a disgrace".

The two rivals are due to face each other on 1 February at Highbury.

An FA spokesman told BBC Sport: "There is no distinction between pre and post- match in terms of disciplinary action."

The long-running dispute between Ferguson and Wenger reached boiling point in the last meeting between the clubs on 24 October when Arsenal's unbeaten run came to an end.

Angry scenes in the tunnel after the match - during which Ferguson infamously had pizza and soup thrown over him - have led to a lengthy war of words between the clubs.

The row had appeared to have blown over though, before Ferguson re-ignited the affair with an inflammatory interview in The Independent newspaper at the weekend.

And Wenger, whose side are just one point ahead of United in the Premiership table, accused Ferguson of a deliberate attempt to aggravate the situation.

If the FA feels it should take action then it should go ahead
LMA chief executive John Barnwell
"We are aware of the comments from the two managers over the weekend," added the FA spokesman.

"Hypothetically speaking, if a manager criticised a referee or another manager before a game, we'd view it in exactly the same way as post-match comments."

Meanwhile, League Managers' Association (LMA) chief executive John Barnwell said he would support any action from the FA.

The LMA has no direct power to discipline Ferguson or Wenger, although it could call the pair in an attempt to clear the air.

"The nearer you get to the end-line emotions could get higher, but this one is perhaps a step too far," said Barnwell.

Jose Mourinho has taken everyone by surprise by keeping Ferguson and Wenger quiet
Former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon

"We at the LMA have no big stick to beat them with. If the FA feels it should take action then it should go ahead.

"It's past history; it should have been dealt with but it's now reared its head again.

"Certainly, if we thought there was something which would pour some water and less fuel on the fire then we would do that."

Former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon claimed that the runaway success of Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho had led to Ferguson and Wenger concentrating on their feud.

"Sir Alex might see that as 1-0 to him," Dixon told BBC Radio Five Live.

"I think certainly the introduction of Mourinho has added spice to it all.

"He's taken everyone by surprise by keeping Ferguson and Wenger quiet and they've turned on each other."

Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

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