Arsenal are set to appeal Arsene Wenger’s two match ban, handed out earlier today by UEFA. The club believe they have a strong case and did not do anything last Tuesday night that was not already sanctioned by the European game’s governing body.
At the briefing before the game, Arsenal told the appointed UEFA delegate what they proposed to do and were given the OK. The delegate confirmed that Arsene Wenger could watch from the director’s box, could communicate with Pat Rice via telephone messages and could send instructions to Rice via a third party. He made it clear that Arsene could not go to the dressing room or speak to the players in person.
At half-time Arsenal were concerned due to reports about Sky’s in-game coverage of the incident and sought clarification from the UEFA delegate. The delegate, taking charge of a match in this role for the first time, sought clarification from UEFA by telephone and then, in front of witnesses, told Arsenal to continue as they had been.
The club sought further clarification as to whether this would bring charges from UEFA but the delegate would not be drawn on that. As he had told Arsenal to continue, Arsene Wenger carried on in the second half as he had in the first, under advisement from the Arsenal officials who had dealt with UEFA.
Shortly afterwards UEFA advised Arsenal that the club and manager had been charged.
The basis of Arsenal’s appeal will be that they, at all times, made it clear to UEFA what they planned to do and that UEFA had agreed to it, both before the game and at half-time when the delegate said they could continue as in the first.
The presence of witnesses will be key to the appeal from Arsenal’s perspective.