SUNDERLAND are considering their response to an unexpected charge by the Football Association of failing to control their players during Saturday’s Premier League match at Manchester City.
The charge relates to an incident in the 43rd minute of the 3-3 draw at the Etihad Stadium, when some Sunderland players reacted angrily when referee Phil Dowd awarded a penalty following Craig Gardner’s challenge on Edin Dzeko.
Gardner was incensed by the decision.
Replays showed that the midfielder had a good case for the penalty not to be given and the Brummie, together with his team-mates, remonstrated with the Staffordshire official hoping he would change his mind.
Mario Balotelli scored from the penalty to bring the home side level and later scored again as City recovered from 3-1 down to rescue a point.
It is the second time in a month that Sunderland have been hit by the charge after both they and Newcastle United were put in the dock over an incident which followed a challenge between James McClean and Danny Simpson in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Both clubs accepted the charge and Newcastle were fined £40,000 because it was their second offence, Sunderland £20,000 because it was their first.
If there is consistency in the fines system, that leaves Sunderland facing a £40,000 bill for the protracted penalty appeal and the club has until 4pm on April 11 to come up with their response.
Sunderland are considering what that will be but there must be a strong chance of them fighting the charge.
While it is never edifying to see players surrounding a referee, it is hard to see the protests of Gardner and his team-mates being much different, or any worse, than dozens of contested penalties in the Premier League and below over the course of the season.