We have been give a copy of Paul Ince’s testimony in full which was sbmitted to the FA for the hearing in which he was given a five-game stadium ban.
“I admit, and whole heartedly apologise for, my post-match reactions as reported by the match officials involved in the game.
“I disagree with some of the points made in the statements in support of the charge and am especially concerned with important incidents that have not been included in any of the reports.
“I wish the following points to be considered in mitigation. I also maintain, and ask the Commission to take into account, that Mr Pottage’s actions were a contributory factor in the escalation of this regrettable incident.
“After we had defended so stoutly and admirably following the sending off, our player Nathan Delfouneso squandered a fantastic opportunity to score and make it 3-1 to Blackpool, when his finish hit the side netting. As he did so, I spun around in frustration and threw the bottle of water I was holding to the ground.
“The bottle bounced off the ground and through the advertising boards where it struck the foot of a female steward in the front row. My actions were out of frustration at such a chance being missed by our player. I understand that there is a responsibility of behaving in an appropriate manner in the technical area, however, this incident was not aggressive as has been suggested and was one of frustration. I had not expected my bottle to strike anywhere other than the floor. As soon as I realised where the bottle had gone, I immediately identified the female steward without prompting, and apologised for my actions. She accepted my apology and thanked me for apologising so quickly.
“I understand that whilst I was offering my apologies to the female steward, Mr Pottage informed the match referee of the ‘incident’ and that my behaviour was aggressive and suggested that I should be removed from the technical area.
“The referee, clearly acting on the advice of Mr Pottage, asked me to leave the technical area. I asked him a number of times why he was sending me to the stand, particularly when I had apologised for my actions, but the referee would not discuss the matter and reaffirmed his instruction for me to leave the technical area, which I did.
“Given that there was no intent in my action, I could not understand why, if any sort of action involving me was deemed inappropriate, the fourth official, Mr Pottage, or the referee, Mr Langford did not simply manage the situation by having a word with me, instead of sending me to the stand.”
PGMOL guidelines state that the fourth official “is expected to control the technical area in a preventative rather than confrontational manner”.
“As soon as the final whistle was blown I made my way back to the tunnel area where I stood and congratulated my players for the result. As I stood congratulating my players, the officials came towards me, and I asked the referee why he had sent me to the stand. His reply was that it was on the instruction of the fourth official.
“My response was to seek out the location of Mr Pottage to find out why he had suggested that I be sent to the stand. I cannot recall the exact words I used, but would not deny that I could have referred to the fourth official using an ‘f’ word, because I was frustrated not only with having been sent to the stand, but also because of his refusal to enter into any dialogue during the match on the thought process concerning various decisions.
“Mr Pottage, in a confrontation tone announced from behind me that he was ‘here’, and I turned around planning to ask Mr Pottage for an explanation. As I turned around, Mr Pottage stepped forward and was ‘fronting me up’ in my face.
“I felt intimidated, so I instinctively pushed him away. The push was not aggressive – only enough to move him from where I was, in order to avoid a real possibility of a one to one confrontation, however, I know I should not have pushed him and I wholeheartedly apologise. I should have handled the situation better, even under the provocation outlined above.
“As I was being escorted by the stewards, I shouted a number of words in the direction of the fourth official. I would also deny that I threatened to knock anyone out. I will accept that I probably used a number of swear words and non-complimentary phrases.
“I have via my club secretary apologised to the officials concerned for my behaviour.”
Ince also ‘categorically’ denied using a four-letter expletive saying “It is not a word I have ever used no matter what the incident.
”Everyone who knows me will vouch that it is a word I do not use nor accept being used by any of my players, staff or friends.”