REF Darren Drysdale faces an FA commission and likely ban – despite making a public apology to Ipswich midfielder Alan Judge.
Lincolnshire whistler Drysdale, 49, was charged with improper conduct by Wembley disciplinary chiefs less than 24 hours after his angry clash with the Irishman.
Drysdale locked heads with Judge and then seemed to square up to him in the latter stages of the Portman Road clash against Northampton.
The astonishing scenes saw Ipswich boss Paul Lambert demanding an investigation by the EFL and FA.
SunSport understands that Drysdale’s performance was criticised by players on both sides throughout the game.
But the referee is said to have flipped and used foul and abusive language when Judge insisted he had been brought down and not dived in a bid to win a spot kick.
In a statement issued through the ref’s governing body PGMOL, Drysdale said: “I fully understand that it is important for us as referees to maintain our composure throughout the game and always engage with players in a professional manner.
“I’m sorry that I did not do that and I can only apologise to Alan and Ipswich Town.”
Aston Villa’s England internationals Tyrone Mings and Jack Grealish suggested the FA should let the issue blow over.
Mings Tweeted: “Everyone makes mistakes…..nothing to see here.”
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Grealish added: “Ah come on?! No need to apologise at all! I think it’s brilliant."
But FA beaks had already opened a probe into the incident and Drysdale was charged with a breach of rule E3.
However, in a twist, the case is being treated as neither “standard” – which would have seen a fixed sanction – nor “non-standard” because of circumstances.
Instead, a commission will determine the next step if Judge accepts his guilt, as now seems likely, with a short ban of up to three games the anticipated punishment.
FA rules do not allow a suspension before any hearing but it is expected PGMOL will take him off their officials’ list for this weekend pending the resolution of the case.
The incident comes with the FA looking to scrap the current “maximum” 10-year ban for violence towards referees and allow life suspensions.
The FA insists grassroots officials have not been put off by incidents of violence and abuse but is keen to ensure younger referees remain convinced they can progress through to the highest levels of the game.
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