Grant pleads not guilty to FA charge

WEST HAM manager Avram Grant has denied a charge of improper conduct relating to comments made about referee Mike Jones following the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Stoke on 13 March.

A personal hearing will be scheduled at a date no later than 7 April.

Following the 2-1 defeat, Grant was unhappy with Jones’ handling of the second half, which began with Stoke being awarded a penalty just 13 seconds after the restart.

Matthew Etherington missed the spot-kick but Grant intimated he felt that Jones had been swayed by the home fans after Frederic Piquionne appeared to handle in the lead-up to the Hammers’ opener in the first half.

“I think maybe this is the reason the referee started the second half very strange,” Grant said.

“Until they scored (the second) goal he gave fouls, a penalty, everything for the home side. Maybe it was because he felt a little bit guilty. I think it was the effect of the first goal for us.”