Middlesbrough have three points docked
MIDDLESBROUGH boss Bryan Robson was reeling from a double kick in the teeth last night with his club docked three points - and top striker Fabrizio Ravanelli branding the team "relegation certainties".
Middlesbrough have been deducted the points for illegally calling off their game with Blackburn on December 21st and they will be required to play the game at a later date. They were also fined £50,000 and they will be required to meet the costs of the FA hearing.
The decision by the Premier League's disciplinary commission has been welcomed by Blackburn - but caretaker manager Tony Parkes wanted his club to be awarded the points and has raised questions about the rescheduled game.
Middlesbrough are now in serious trouble. They are bottom of the Premiership with 15 points from 22 games, four points adrift of 19th placed Southampton, and morale at the Riverside club appears to be rock bottom.
In an outburst in Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport former Juventus striker Ravanelli admitted: "I reckon we will be relegated, I'm almost certain of it."
Ravanelli mocked Robson's decision to give the players a break after Christmas even though they had slumped to the bottom of the table.
He added: "I can't even get angry any more. We are the tailenders. We have hardly any hopes of salvation and they give us three days off. The situation, I am very sorry to say is truly tragic."
At the time old the postponed game Tony Parkes branded Middlesbrough's actions as akin "to a Sunday League side".
Yesterday he said: "From a football viewpoint I suppose we've got to be fairly happy." He said, however, that he thought there was a good chance that Blackburn could have been awarded the points.
"That hasn't happened and in many ways this is the second-best decision for us. But there are still things that we need to know.
"For instance, under what circumstances will the game be played? Will Middlesbrough be allowed to field players they have signed in the meantime?
"It is very hard for anyone to recreate the original circumstances or situation."
Middlesbrough are expected to launch an immediate appeal, which must be within 14 days from receipt of the FA Premier League's written confirmation of the judgement.
The League called up heavyweight guns for the commission at Lancaster Gate, the first test of their disciplinary procedure.
Following the decision, bookmakers William Hill slashed the odds on Middlesbrough being relegated from 5/4 to evens.
The one bright spot in Middlesbrough's day of gloom was the arrival of Inter Milan defender Gianluca Festa on Teesside, ready to complete his £2.7 million move.
The 27-year-old Italian will join in training today ready for a Premiership debut against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.