The FA have published a statement on their website today, admitting their poor handling of the Patrice Evra case.
Whilst obviously not able to admit their report was totally flawed, they have been forced in to conceding that it was out of order to publish it on their website.
In a grovelling statement, following communication with David Gill, the FA admit that they fucked up, on several accounts.
The FA regrets that those involved in providing evidence at the hearing concerning Manchester United’s Patrice Evra’s charge were not verbally advised that their words would be publicised before, and after giving evidence
Additionally, The FA has also made clear it is regrettable that it did not extend the courtesy generally provided to clubs, to advise Manchester United – in advance – that the written findings from the disciplinary hearing of 4/5 December 2008, would be made public.
The FA acknowledges that it is has not been normal procedure for written findings to be published previously, and that there has only been a small number of cases when they have been.
The fact that they were on The FA’s official website on Monday 15 December, before Manchester United had notified The FA of their decision not to exercise their right to appeal against the four-match suspension imposed on Patrice Evra, has also been acknowledged by The FA.
The FA has made it clear it stands by the decision of the Independent Commission, and the decision to publish the written findings of the hearing, although in this case a summary may have been more appropriate, due to those who provided evidence not being made aware that they would be doing so publicly and also that individuals reputations have been publicly called into question through doing so.
In response, United have made it clear that they find it unacceptable that the good names of some of our members of staff had been damaged, whilst suggesting representatives of our club will not be quick to help the FA in further enquiries.
Manchester United welcomes The FA’s acknowledgement of its concerns over the handling of the publication of the recent disciplinary hearing findings.
While the Club’s view of the sentence handed to the player is well-known, on this separate issue, it has been concerned on two counts: the effect on the reputation of some of its most highly regarded and respected members of staff and the possible effect on the willingness of people to assist The FA in the future with its investigations.
The Club acknowledges the desirability of more transparency in the disciplinary process, but only on a consistent basis – both in publication and in verdict.
The Club accepts that there was no intention to harm the reputations of Michael Phelan, Richard Hartis and others, but feels that the episode has potentially created an atmosphere in which people in the game will be reluctant to volunteer information if they believe their careers may suffer as a result of helping The FA.
The staff involved have exemplary careers as professionals at the top of the game and Michael in particular has been associated with the Club for most of the last 20 years and in that time he has consistently demonstrated himself to be a man of the highest integrity.