Royle faces FA charge for water incident

BLUES boss Joe Royle is in hot water after accidentally splashing cold water onto a fourth official.

BLUES boss Joe Royle is in hot water after accidentally splashing cold water onto a fourth official, writes Derek Davis.

Royle is bemused to find he faces an FA rap after he accidentally threw a water bottle near the feet of fourth official John Lodge during the home game with Leeds United.

Referee Phil Crossley spoke to Royle at the time after the Colchester-based assistant stepped onto the pitch to report the Town boss but it was generally assumed that was the end of the matter.

But Royle was reported to the FA for improper conduct, a charge he denies, and has now requested a personal hearing on a date to be arranged.

The incident happened after Leeds United were awarded a controversial penalty in the game that ended 1-1 and Royle threw the bottle down in frustration.

Royle last night said: “I apologised straight away when some water splashed onto him. I did throw the bottle down but it was not aimed at the official although it landed near him. I'm very surprised that it has come to this.”

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Meanwhile, referee Paul Taylor has admitted it would have been better for Ipswich Town if he had sent off Ricardo Fuller during the 2-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday.

The Hertfordshire official told Royle that he was wrong to even book the Jamaican on his debut after being conned by Foxes midfielder Joey Gudjonsson.

Fuller is banned for the Blues' trip to his old club Preston as the yellow card was his fifth booking of the season but because he was not dismissed Town cannot appeal against the decision and have to accept the suspension.

Royle and Fuller both accused Gudjonsson of diving after the game and after looking at a video of the incident the referee agreed but is powerless to rescind a yellow card.

Royle said: “The referee has been gracious enough to say he wishes he had sent Fuller off because then we could have appealed and he would have overturned it with the video evidence.

“I don't blame the referee at all because when someone goes down clutching their face you are entitled to think they have been smacked.”

It is just another episode in an eventful season for Town that have been rocked by an incredibly high number of injuries, 11 down to impact, and other bizarre setbacks.

No other club has had to apply to get a work permit for a loan player, while Town have suffered at least two wrongful sendings-off - Sito Castro and Richard Naylor - and endured unforeseen off-field problems.

Yet they have still managed to manoeuvre themselves into a top-10 place and are putting pressure on the play-off contenders.

Even for a manager with more than 1,000 games under his belt, it has been an unprecedented season of bad luck but Royle is impressed by the strength of character shown by his staff and squad.

Royle said: “The nearest I can relate to having anything like the same amount of problems was at Everton when we lost four midfielders with ankle injuries but we still had strikers to put the ball away.

“On top of the injuries we have had the Ricardo Fuller situation.

“The club has done amazingly with all the problems we have had this year. No one else in this division has had to endure the problems we have had this season.

“The players have stuck at it and their belief has remained immense, as has their desire to get into the play-offs.

“But that doesn't mean we sit and say 'haven't we done well'. We are now beginning a 10-game season with a big prize at the end.”

So it was no surprise that Royle offered a wry smile when asked about Preston's problems as Billy Davies looks to find cover from three suspended players and an injury to skipper Chris Lucketti.

Royle said: “I feel so sorry for them.

“No, seriously, Billy has done a fantastic job and they are having a wonderful season with minimal spending and big selling.

“They may have lost two in a row but that was a cup game against a Premiership side and away at Reading so they are in a fine form.

“They may have one or two suspension and injury problems but they have players to come in.

“They are passing team like ourselves so it will be a good football match. It would be a terrific one for us to win because it would make a great statement and push us closer to within two points.”

Preston are five points ahead of Town in sixth place but will still have two games in hand over the Blues after Saturday's game.

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