Boothroyd set to escape play-off ban despite melee

May 10, 2006

Watford could lose key players to suspension for the Coca-Cola Championship play-off final - but manager Adrian Boothroyd is likely to earn a reprieve.

The Football Association are studying video evidence of the second-half brawl which marred Tuesday night's 0-0 draw in the semi-final second leg against Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road - and which saw Boothroyd sent to the stands by referee Steve Tanner.

But even if Boothroyd - who was involved in the angry confrontation with Palace duo Fitz Hall and Tom Soares that sparked the skirmish - is punished, he would have 14 days to respond to the charge. And with the play-off final against Leeds only 11 days away, any ban imposed on Boothroyd is likely to take effect at the beginning of next season. Some of his players might not be so lucky, however.

The FA's fast-track disciplinary scheme - which applies only to players - means suspensions can be imposed within 48 hours of the incident. Hornets striker Darius Henderson, who appeared to drag Palace midfielder Soares into the Watford dug-out despite not being involved in the action at that stage, could be at risk if his alleged actions were caught on camera.

An FA spokesman said: 'We are looking at some additional video footage of the incident. The fast-track system applies only to players, not to clubs or managers.'

Both clubs face being charged with failing to control their players after the melee, which involved virtually every outfield player and a number of the substitutes. A Watford spokesman added: 'We can not comment further until we have heard more from the FA.'