Stoke chairman Peter Coates believes the Ricardo Fuller situation could have been avoided but has also described the striker's actions as "unprofessional".
The Jamaican is facing internal disciplinary action on top of a three-match ban after being red-carded in the defeat by West Ham when he slapped his own captain Andy Griffin.
Coates has questioned the judgement of referee Michael Jones in dismissing Fuller at Upton Park and said: "I'm not condoning it but can't referees use discretion? I thought the referee could have handled it better. You see things far worse on the pitch all the time go unpunished."
He added: "Let's not get it out of proportion - it was hardly a punch like Muhammad Ali.
"Little incidents and spats happen all the time, on the pitch and on the training ground, we mustn't forget that."
Coates is due to meet manager Tony Pulis later on Wednesday when Fuller and Griffin return to training with the rest of the squad.
"I'm very disappointed in Ricardo indeed," said Coates. "The incident shouldn't have happened, it was unprofessional.
"He's an emotional guy but needs to control himself. But in the heat of the moment, these things can happen.
"We all do things that we regret and I'm sure he is regretting it now. We are going to deal with this within the club as that's the way it should be dealt with. Tony Pulis will come in to do whatever is necessary.
"I'm sure they can play together again, the guys get on well with each other as I understand it. We have a good team spirit and I'm sure that'll continue."
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