EPL: Arsenal plead guilty, top fair play table

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
October 15th, 2003 • 10:07 pm

The English FA has revealed that the Arsenal players involved in the incidents at Old Trafford a few weeks ago have pleaded guilty by admitting a number of misconduct charges. The club itself has pleaded guilty of failing to control its players.

This is good news, not just because it means that the penalties will likely not be as severe as initially thought. Both Keown and Lauren still face multiple match bands, but the impact on the team as a whole will be less.

It is, more importantly, good news because it confirms the signals sent last week by the FA that it was listening to the voice of reason after all and not exaggerating charges in response to incriminating media coverage of the actual events.

And it also means that Arsenal, the managers and the players are being reasonable as well and not denying the obvious, i.e. that they behaved improperly and should be punished (appropriately) for it.

The issue of whether similar incidents and the ensuing controversies can be avoided in the future is still up in the air, however. As noted earlier, referees and, to a lesser degree, the FA disciplinary panels are still too easily fooled by mind games and theatrics, and still not consistent enough in their treatment of EPL teams and players as a whole. But it’s a start.

Ironically, it was also reported yesterday that Arsenal currently top the Premier League’s Fair Play table. I am not sure that they can maintain this position throughout the season, but it certainly is a clear indication that things are not as black and white as some people would argue.

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