Moneys coach stunned by ban

Michael Birmingham in action for Moneys before he retired from playing. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122829-3272)
Michael Birmingham in action for Moneys before he retired from playing. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122829-3272)

Michael Birmingham admitted he was stunned after being hit with a 182-day touchline ban and £150 fine.

The Moneyfields coach has been found guilty of improper conduct towards a match official in a Wessex League premier division clash with Christchurch in November.

Moneys lost the fixture 3-0 and had star striker Steve Hutchings sent off for two bookable offences.

Birmingham was charged – and found guilty – of a breach of FA Rule E3, which includes making physical contact with a match official.

The former Bognor midfielder admitted having a discussion with the referee at half-time but refutes any suggestion he laid a finger on the man in charge.

He also insists he was not made aware of the hearing date and has rejected the Hampshire FA’s claim he had seen and accepted the referee’s report of events.

An FA statement said: ‘Michael Birmingham was charged following a report received from the match referee in relation to an off-the-field incident.

‘Mr Birmingham pleaded guilty to the charge and accepted the referee’s report on which it was based.

‘He also requested the case was dealt with in his absence by a disciplinary commission to decide his punishment and did not submit any plea for leniancy or explanation of his actions.

‘A disciplinary committee met and decided Mr Birmingham should be suspended for 182 days and fined £150, which is the punishment recommended for that offence by the Football Association.

‘The football community take a dim view on incidents of this nature and the Hampshire FA are fully committed to challenging poor behaviour and promoting respect.’

They also pointed out more severe punishments were available.

Birmingham believes the situation is ‘ludicrous’ but has decided not to appeal.

‘I did not assault the referee in any shape or form,’ he said.

‘All I admitted to was being in the referee’s room at half-time – after he invited me in – and slamming the door as I went out.

‘Moneyfields’ secretary Wayne Dalton wrote to the Hampshire FA explaining this. I have never seen the referee’s report and had no idea when the hearing was.

‘My opening line when I went into his room was “ref, you have the hardest job in the world”. I wasn’t looking for a ruck.

‘He admitted to me he’d got a lot of decisions wrong in the first half.

‘We ended up losing 3-0 and had Steve Hutchings sent off.

‘There were no problems with that but we were unhappy with the lack of consistency shown.

‘When the referee asked me to leave his room I slammed the door on the way out.

‘In over 25 years in non-league football referees have always had my respect.

‘There have been times when I have suffered from the red mist and been sent off but I have always gone in and had a beer with them afterwards.

‘I find this current situation ludicrous but there is little point in appealing against it.’

Birmingham is not allowed in the dugout until July 16.