Evra and Chelsea groundsman deny FA charges

August 6, 2008

LONDON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell on Wednesday denied charges issued by the English FA following a fracas at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea played United there in April.

Both men have requested personal hearings which will be heard at a later date.

They were charged with improper conduct over an altercation after the Premier League match on April 26 which Chelsea won 2-1 to rekindle their hopes of wresting the title from United.

However, United bounced back from that defeat to lift the league trophy while Chelsea finished second.

The Chelsea groundsman was also charged with using abusive language relating to nationality/race, which he denies, said a statement on the FA website.

The incident occurred in a virtually deserted stadium about 15 minutes after the match ended when several United players were warming down and the groundstaff were treating the pitch.

The FA spent three months investigating what happened and had said in an earlier statement: 'In bringing the charges, the FA used video evidence, CCTV footage and various witness statements from individuals present.'

Chelsea had already denied any wrong-doing on Bethell's behalf, saying: 'We believe there is no foundation whatsoever to claims that the incident... involved comments based on nationality or race, which has led to an FA charge against one of our employees.'