When Cesc Fabregas inexplicably sniped the head of West Brom’s Chris Brunt with the ball on Monday, he was sent off by referee Mike Jones and left Chelsea sweating a potential three-match suspension that would have carried over to next season.
It was a mind-boggling decision by Fabregas and a bold yet commendable sending off from the referee.
Now, the Premier League has announced that Fabregas will be suspended just one match, to be served in the series finale against Sunderland on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.
However, the manner they announced his one-match suspension seems odd and almost appears to invite suspicion.
The debate following the match was whether the red card to Fabregas would be ruled as either violent conduct or unsporting behavior. Violent conduct carries a standard three-match suspension, while unsporting behavior only one. So, had the Premier League wished to give Fabregas the lesser variety, it seemed they had a gift-wrapped option to do so.
However, they took the long route to Fabregas’s reduction to just a one-match suspension. The FA release reads:
“A claim by Chelsea that the three-match suspension for Cesc Fabregas is excessive has been upheld by an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing. Fabregas was dismissed for violent conduct during the West Bromwich Albion FC v Chelsea FC fixture on 18 May. The Regulatory Commission has reduced the Chelsea midfielder’s suspension to one match, to be served with immediate effect.”
The release specifically mentions that Fabregas was charged with violent conduct, that Chelsea appealed, and that it was reduced via a hearing.
In any case, Fabregas will miss the season finale against Stoke before becoming eligible to start next season unabridged. Early vacation!