Chelsea have vowed to fight the Football Association charge that the club failed to control their players against Fulham.
The FA have issued the charge in relation to the behaviour of Chelsea players after William Gallas was sent off in the Barclays Premiership defeat at Craven Cottage on Sunday. Gallas has escaped further punishment for his thumbs-down gestures to Fulham fans as he left the pitch but the FA have written to him to warn him about his future conduct.
A Chelsea spokesman said: “We will respond in due course with a robust defence.”
It is the second time this month that the Premiership champions have found themselves in the dock. They are also facing charges of failing to control their players during a game at West Brom on March 4.
The reaction of the Blues players to a tackle by Albion’s Ronnie Wallwork on Claude Makelele is under scrutiny from the game at The Hawthorns. Chelsea have already denied the West Brom charge and will contest the latest one as well. They have until April 7 to respond formally.
In both games the conduct of Chelsea’s opponents was also scrutinised but West Brom and Fulham escaped charges. At The Hawthorns, referee Mark Halsey decided the protests of Albion players against a foul by Arjen Robben on Jonathan Greening was not as threatening as the Chelsea reaction to Wallwork’s offence.
At Fulham, players from the home team surrounded referee Mike Dean to insist that Didier Drogba had handled the ball before rolling it into the net. The goal was rightly disallowed but Dean decided the scrum of protesting Fulham players urging him to consult his linesman had not pressurised him.
An FA spokesman said: “Mike Dean confirmed that, in his view, the conduct of Fulham players in the 57th minute did not warrant a report to the FA.”
The referee felt differently, however, about Chelsea players who confronted the linesman after Gallas was sent off in the last minute for a nasty tackle on Heidar Helguson.
An FA spokesman said: “Referee Mike Dean and assistant referee Andy Williams reported to the FA that, in their view, a number of players had surrounded Williams in an aggressive manner.”