Sunderland and Oxford United 'tunnel-gate' saga rumbles on as Karl Robinson set for FA hearing
Oxford United manager Karl Robinson will put his case to the FA today – as he faces a second charge over the ‘tunnel-gate’ incident at Sunderland.
The Black Cats beat Oxford 3-1 on Good Friday, but the game was ultimately overshadowed by incidents in and around the tunnel area.
Robinson – who was sent to the stands by referee Trevor Kettle during the fixture and served a one-game ban and received a £1,000 fine following a subsequent charge – alleged after the game that a member of his playing staff had been head-butted at half-time during a feisty encounter at the Stadium of Light.
Tensions were also high at full-time around the tunnel area and the FA took their time to assess the referee’s report and other observations before charging the clubs.
No specific details have been released at this time however the FA did confirm last week that they had issued a number of charges.
Both Sunderland and Oxford have been charged with breaches of FA Rule E20 – which states that they ‘failed to ensure their players and/or club officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour around the tunnel area’.
Sunderland assistant head coach Jamie McAllister and Robinson, meanwhile, have been charged with breaches of FA Rule E3. The FA allege that the conduct of Robinson at full-time and of McAllister at half-time amounts to ‘improper and/or violent conduct.’
Both individuals had until Wednesday, April 28 to respond – with Robinson requesting a personal hearing, which will take place today (Wednesday, May 5).
Speaking ahead of the hearing, Robinson insisted that he had been trying to diffuse tensions during the incident.
"I don’t really care what the FA do,” he said, speaking to the Oxford Mail.
“When you win cases with the FA they ask you not to speak about it, when you lose they’re very quick to judge you.
“I was the one stopping what went on at half-time at Sunderland, but they don’t want to talk about the good things you do.”
Speaking last week, Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson said that the club would accept some of the charges – but felt there were mitigating circumstances at play.
He was also hopeful that the club would be given a ‘slap on the wrist’ and little more.
"[We'll accept] some of them," he said.
"I think there's definitely mitigating circumstances within those.
"We will put our case over and the guys at the football club have been fantastic in how they've gone through it really thoroughly.
"They've been impartial while also working for us and there's CCTV, and stuff like that.
"I've not massively been involved in but I know Kristjaan and Ray have been hugely involved in this and hopefully we'll come out of it with a slap on the wrist, which is probably what we deserve at most.
"It was a slight overreaction to a particular incident but the players were outstanding in all of it so I'd be disappointed if anything come of it as a club."