Wenger faces extended ban

Arsene Wenger faces the prospect of a touchline ban from Arsenal’s first tie in the Champions League knockout phase. He will be given an automatic one-match suspension following his sending-off at Sevilla on November 27, and will be confined to the stands for the final Group H fixture against Steaua Bucharest on December 12. But 24 hours later, UEFA’s disciplinary panel will meet and discuss whether to impose a lengthier ban.

Wenger was ordered from the technical area towards the end of Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at the Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, having lost his cool with the officials at what he perceived as play-acting by the Sevilla players. UEFA rules demand that in such situations the manager must leave all technical areas and watch the remainder of the match from the stands.

When the Barcelona manager, Frank Rijkaard, was sent off on November 27 during the 2-2 draw with Lyon for confronting the referee Stefano Farina he retreated to the stands. But Wenger remained by the tunnel, despite the efforts of the fourth official, Reinold Wiedemeijer, to usher him away and his refusal to move could land him in more trouble.

Wenger, who branded the referee Eric Braamhaar “naïve” and Wiedemeijer’s actions as “absolutely shocking”, said there was no route for him through the crowd to the directors’ box. UEFA awaits Braamhaar’s report and will consider the views of the match delegate and its disciplinary panel before deciding whether to impose a heavier punishment.

“Rijkaard went upstairs into the stands after being sent off, that’s the rule,” said William Gaillard, UEFA’s director of communications and public affairs. “If you are expelled from the technical area then you have to leave. The case concerning Arsene Wenger will be looked at again but the rules are quite clear on this.”

David Hytner/ © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007