Evra banned for four games

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Manchester United defender Patrice Evra has been banned for four matches and fined £15,000 after the Football Assocation ruled he attacked Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell at Stamford Bridge last season.

Chelsea have also been fined £25,000 because of Bethell's own conduct during the altercation, following the Londoners' controversial 2-1 win.

However, an allegation that Bethell had 'engaged in racist conduct or language' was not proved and Chelsea were cleared of that charge.

Chelsea will be grateful Bethell's character has not been dragged through the mud, as appeared likely when the charges were first raised.

It is thought United assistant boss Mike Phelan was the man who claimed Bethell used racist language towards Evra but the FA clearly did not think there was enough evidence to find the Chelsea groundsman guilty.

As Bethell's employer, Chelsea would have been liable on the groundsman's behalf as the FA had already accepted they had no jurisdiction over club employees.

However, while the Londoners might be reasonably satisfied with the outcome, United are unlikely to be so content.

By Evra's own admission, he struck Bethell on the head and the fact he went back and continued the row after it had been broken up went against the France full-back as well.

The four-game ban means Evra will miss the Premier League fixtures at Stoke on Boxing Day and Middlesbrough on December 29, the FA Cup third-round tie at Southampton on January 4, plus the first leg of United's Carling Cup semi-final.

As Evra is also banned from the December 21 fixture at Tottenham after reaching five bookings for the season, other than the Club World Cup, he will not have a competitive match between next Wednesday's Champions League clash with Aalborg and, ironically, Chelsea's visit to Old Trafford to face United on January 11.

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