Sunderland get more time to respond over Moyes

Ian Watson

Sunderland and David Moyes have been given more time to provide observations to the Football Association regarding the manager’s threat to “slap” a female reporter.

The Scot’s behaviour has come under scrutiny this week after video emerged of an exchange with BBC journalist Vicki Sparks following the 0-0 draw with Burnley on March 18.

He has apologised, and Sunderland issued a statement on Tuesday stating their commitment to Moyes but agreed that his suggestion he might slap the reporter was “wholly unacceptable”.

The FA contacted the club on Monday seeking observations about the matter and had wanted a response by the close of business on Thursday.

However, Press Association Sport understands the governing body has granted Sunderland’s request to extend the deadline, and they now have until April 10 to respond – the day after the embattled Black Cats host Manchester United.

Moyes’ side languish bottom of the Premier League and are 10 points from safety after losing 2-0 at Leicester.

“I think it was great to get that support from the club and I expected it,” the Sunderland boss said after Tuesday’s match.

“I’ve been surprised in many ways but I’ve done my job with the players, prepared them and organised them.

“The world of football is a great business now, it employs an incredible amount of people, whether it be in the media or at the training grounds, and for that reason football is a big talking point.

“It (preparing for the game) was not difficult at all, I said and did all the things, prepared the players and did the same things we would do for any other game.”

Sparks has maintained a dignified silence since the footage was released by the Daily Star.

The video appears to show Moyes unhappy when asked whether owner Ellis Short’s presence meant he was under more pressure during Sunderland’s relegation fight.

At the end of the interview, the Scot said: “You were just getting a wee bit naughty at the end there, so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman.

“Careful the next time you come in.”

Both Moyes and Sparks were laughing during the exchange and the reporter did not make a complaint, although colleagues were unimpressed when they heard what had been said.

Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Clare Phillipson, director of domestic abuse charity Wearside Women In Need, have been among those wanting a more serious response.

Dr Allin-Khan tweeted: “David Moyes cannot get away with these sexist threats – the @FA must take action immediately.”

Phillipson said: “It is for the FA to set a clear standard about what they think is acceptable. It was dreadful, absolutely appalling.”

FA chairman Greg Clarke said Moyes’ comments to Sparks were “regrettable, distasteful and showed a complete lack of respect”.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Helsinki, Clarke said: “It was regrettable, it was distasteful and I think it showed a complete lack of respect. And we in the game stand for respect.

“But I don’t think it undermines football’s desire to be inclusive and respectful. Every now and again, we will have to remind people of the high standards we need to observe in football.”

When asked if it was sexist, Clarke said: “It could have been interpreted as such.

“I think it’s doubly bad to use such a term to a woman because there is a lot of violence against women in society and terms like that aren’t just disrespectful, I think they are bad examples.

“I regret that it happened and I’m sure that David Moyes regrets that it happened.”