Video: Ivanovic facing three-match ban for Maloney punch
Published 11:26 09/04/12 By Martin Lipton
Branislav Ivanovic is facing a three-game punching ban - but not until after he plays at Fulham tonight.
Video footage (see below) clearly shows the Serbian defended swinging a left fist into the stomach of Wigan's Shaun Maloney just before Juan Mata's controversial winner for Chelsea on Saturday.
The incident took place directly behind the back of referee Mike Jones who had his eyes firmly on the play in front of him and did not see the clash.
FA disciplinary chiefs have been alerted to the footage and will review the video today before asking Jones to confirm he did not witness what happened.
Chelsea are braced for Ivanovic to receive a violent conduct charge that will bring an automatic three-match suspension.
But with just hours to go before kick-off at Craven Cottage, there is not enough time for the paperwork to be filed and dealt with even under the FA's fast-track procedure before the match at Fulham.
It means Ivanovic is set to miss three London derby clashes, the FA Cup semi-final with Spurs at Wembley on Sunday, the vital trip to Arsenal on April 21 and Chelsea's home game with QPR eight days later.
The nature of the punishment, though, is likely to only add insult to injury for Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, who branded the officials' performance "disgusting" after the harsh defeat.
Had Ivanovic been spotted, he would have been dismissed with Wigan having a free-kick and able to run down the clock rather than succumb to virtually the last kick of the game.
See the incident in the video below