Schmeichel is innocent - Ferguson


MANCHESTER United manager Alex Ferguson last night issued a firm denial that goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel made racist" remarks at Arsenal striker Ian Wright during a Premiership match at Old Trafford last November.

Ferguson expressed his disappointment and surprise that the Crown Prosecution Service are investigating claims that Schmeichel directed racist abuse at Wright during that game.

Several lip-reading fans claimed that television pictures showed the Danish international swearing at Wright and he could face criminal charges if the CPS decide that the evidence is strong enough.

But Ferguson, speaking on Sky Sports, retorted: "We are very surprised that this wild card has emerged about a racist remark allegedly made to Ian Wright.

We can categorically deny that there has been any racist remark whatsoever from Peter Schmeichel. There's no question of that. It is very, very disappointing to read that stuff."

The United boss described Schmeichel as "very, very upset" about the allegations.

"He has got a family to think about. His own family back in Denmark are reading all this and it's very, very upsetting to the boy," Ferguson added.

The United manager also branded the claims as "a big, big slur" on the champions' reputation.

"Manchester United is a worldwide institution," he reasoned. "Two years ago we coached in the townships in Africa and Peter Schmeichel was part of that.

"We have supporters' branches in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Gibraltar, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Malta and Cyprus - everywhere in the world. We place great store on our reputation, so it is a big, big slur."

But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger urged his opposite number to let the law of the land decide whether Schmeichel was guilty.

"People speak too much after something happens which justice" has to decide," he said. "We just have to respect the law that exists in England and let the justices do their job."

Meanwhile, Wright and Schmeichel will have to wait until next week before discovering whether or not they face Football Association misconduct charges over their post-match flare-up after United's 2-1 win over Arsenal at Highbury on Wednesday night.

Wright had to be restrained by Arsenal physiotherapist Gary Lewin, stewards and policemen when he attempted to confront Schmeichel as he walked down the tunnel.

The Danish international goalkeeper, angered by a late challenge from Wright that left him with a bruised ankle, wagged his finger at the England striker as the pair headed towards the tunnel sparking Wright's outburst.

Both players are likely to face disciplinary action, but the FA are leaving no stone unturned before deciding what action to take.

Match observer Kelvin Morton, referee Martin Bodenham and linesmen Alan Sheffield and Mike Stobbart have all supplied reports on the incident and the FA are waiting for a further report from fourth official Peter Jones.

FA spokesman Steve Double said: "We are awaiting the completion of a full police report into the incident that followed the final whistle, which we expect to receive by the middle of next week.

"With such sensitive issues involved, we want to be absolutely sure we are in possession of all the facts before taking a decision on any action involving any player. We are also seeking a report from the fourth official on the night."