West Ham's Avram Grant charged by FA for criticism of referee at Stoke

West Ham's Avram Grant charged by FA for criticism of referee at StokeAvram Grant faces a possible touchline ban after being charged with improper conduct by the Football Association for comments he made about Mike Jones, the referee who oversaw West Ham United's 2-1 defeat by Stoke City on Sunday in the FA Cup quarter-final.

The West Ham manager accused Jones of being "weak", suggesting that because the official missed Frédéric Piquionne handling the ball before equalising for West Ham he then compensated by favouring Stoke in his decisions until Danny Higginbotham's winner.

Grant said: "I think maybe [Piquionne's goal] is the reason the referee started the second half very, very strangely. Until they scored the goal [by Higginbotham], he gave fouls and penalties, everything for them. But it was a penalty for us at the end and he didn't give it. Maybe he felt a little bit weak."

A statement released by the governing body said: "The FA has today charged West Ham United manager Avram Grant with improper conduct relating to media comments. The charge relates to comments made about match official Mike Jones in post-match interviews following West Ham United's fixture with Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday 13 March 2011. Grant has until 4pm on 21 March to respond to the charge."

It is not known if Grant will deny or accept the charge. But he may take note of Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to fight the same count, and the Manchester United manager on Wednesday then receiving a five-game touchline ban – two of which were from a suspended sentence – and a £30,000 fine for comments he made following Manchester United's defeat at Chelsea this month.

If Grant is found guilty he could be warned, fined and/or banned. His previously clean disciplinary record with the FA would count in his favour when any punishment is decided.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jamie Jackson, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 16th March 2011 22.39 Europe/London

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