Arsene Wenger’s legal counsel used footage of other managers who had been charged after bust-ups with officials but it was evidence about Anthony Taylor that reduced his ban to four games instead of six.
It was all about the ‘mitigating circumstances’ and the FA found that Wenger had enough of them to warrant a 33% reduction in his punishment. They initially wanted to ban him for six games.
Wenger’s lawyer, Mr Bennett, used video clips of Jose Moruinho, Rui Faraia, Mark Hughes, and two of Alan Pardew having run-ins with officials to try and set a base for the punishment, but the FA were unmoved. They found insignificant similarities to use them as precedent.
Mr Bennett then turned to the second charge, which had come about after Wengr had been instructed to leave the pitch and Anthony Taylor followed him.
The fourth official, who had reported to Jon Moss that Wenger had questioned their integrity (and told him to f**k off twice) reported that Wenger also pushed him twice.
Wenger’s defence was two-fold.
Firstly, he addressed the matter of him standing in the tunnel saying he was not clear on where he was to go. Although a letter had been sent around clubs clarifying this exact point, Wenger claimed that he had not read it. It’s a defence he’s used many times and one that I doubt would have stood up had it not been for Anthony ’don’t question my integrity’ Taylor giving Wenger the wrong instructions.
When telling the manager to leave, Taylor ordered him to the ‘dressing room’ rather than take up a position in the Director’s box. “However, the Commission recognised that Mr Taylor, in fact, gave Mr Wenger the wrong instruction in telling him to go to the dressing room which would seem to indicate that despite the issuance of The FA’s guidance letter there still remains some confusion with regard to the correct protocol attached to Technical Area Dismissal’s, even with the Official’s themselves,” it said in the FA’s report on the case.
Wenger also said that he felt that Taylor had invaded his personal space when he had pointed at him, and Wenger had reacted instinctively to push him away – an action for which he apologised after completing his media duties.
The FA found that Taylor had not breached any rules by following Wenger into the tunnel in the first place. The FA rules state that officials are ‘not required’ to ensure a person who has been dismissed from the technical area leaves the pitch. But it does not forbid them from doing so.
The question then, should be, if the fourth official is in the tunnel, who is doing the duties of the fourth official while play is going on?
It seems the confusion over the guidance regarding dismissals from the technical area, coupled with the game almost ending, the penalty incident, Wenger’s behaviour in the previous seven years, and his immediate apologies and acceptance of charges, all went towards keeping his ban at just four games.
That, and the FA finding yet another rule that Anthony Taylor doesn’t seem to understand.
“The Commission did not consider Mr Wenger’s contact with Mr Taylor as being particularly ‘violent’ in nature” the FA Continued.
“Mr Wenger had initially taken up a stance with his arms folded and the pushing actions he made were, to the mind of the Commission, more akin to Mr Wenger moving the Fourth Official out of his personal space and asking to be left alone than an act of overt aggression.”