MANCHESTER United's Eric Cantona can continue playing in English

football -- but only after a lengthy spell in exile, a Football

Association disciplinary panel decided yesterday.

The three-man commission fined the Frenchman #10,000 and suspended him

from ''all football activities'' until September 30 this year after

having found him guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

The 28-year-old Cantona already has been banned from playing until the

end of the season and fined around #20,000 by his club after allegedly

assaulting a Crystal Palace fan.

Yesterday he was summoned to the FA to explain his actions at a

disciplinary hearing, and he is due to appear before magistrates in

Croydon on March 23 charged with common assault against the fan at

Selhurst Park on January 25.

The panel consisted of FA disciplinary committee chairman Geoff

Thompson, Oldham chairman Ian Stott, and Football League president

Gordon McKeag.

The FA's public affairs director, David Davies, said: ''The members of

the Football Association Commission are satisfied that the actions of

Eric Cantona, following his sending-off in the Crystal Palace match

against Manchester United on January 25, brought the game into


''After having taken into consideration the previous misconduct record

of Eric Cantona, the provocation he suffered, the prompt action taken by

Manchester United, Eric Cantona's expression of regret to the

Commission, and the apologies he has offered to those affected, and the

assurances he gave as to his future conduct, the members of the

Commission have decided that Eric Cantona should be suspended forthwith

from all football activities up to and including the September 30, 1995.

In addition, Eric Cantona is fined the sum of #10,000.''

Millions saw Cantona launching a kung-fu style attack on Palace fan

Matthew Simmons, who apparently had been taunting him after he was sent


Manchester United chairman and chief executive, Martin Edwards, had

appealed to the FA last night not to extend the Frenchman's suspension

beyond the end of this season.

His comments followed remarks by Cantona's French lawyer, Jean-Jacques

Bertrand, that he feared the star could receive a permanent world wide

ban from the game.

Graham Kelly, the FA's chief executive, said that Cantona had now

suffered sufficiently for his misconduct. However, he pointed out that

the FA felt restricted by Cantona's impending court case.

''Everyone understands that Eric Cantona faces a court case, has been

dealt with by Manchester United, has lost money, and lost the captaincy

of the French team,'' said Kelly. ''I don't think you could say he has

not suffered for his actions of January 25.''

Kelly stressed that Cantona had expressed strong regret for the

incident, although Cantona himself said nothing in Manchester United's

ensuing news conference.

He also revealed that the FA had already had talks with the Commission

for Racial Equality concerning the type of abuse that provoked Cantona

last month.

The FA's chief executive added that legislation could be improved to

help police take action over the initial confrontation between Cantona

and the supporter.

Meanwhile, United described Cantona's increased suspension as

''harsh'' -- but insist their French star will not appeal. Maurice

Watkins, the club's solicitor-director, who led their delegation, also

insists that Cantona will resume his career at Old Trafford when the ban

ends next season.

''There has been a comprehensive hearing of the charge today, and

Eric's case has been fully argued and examined,'' said Watkins


''Whilst we are naturally disappointed that the FA have felt it

necessary to increase the suspension that was promptly meted out by

Manchester United, the decision has been accepted in everyone's


''Eric has never sought to justify his actions nor to minimise their


''There is a right of appeal, but we have said we have accepted the

decision, so Eric will not be making an appeal.

''I have spent quite a bit of time over the last few weeks with him,

we have talked about the situation and I believe he will do his best. I

think that's also the confidence Alex Ferguson has in him.''

The football roll of shame

1995: Eric Cantona (Manchester United) banned from football until

beginning of October and fined #10,000. Already suspended for rest of

current season and fined two weeks' (#10,000) wages by his club.

1994: Duncan Ferguson (Rangers) 12 games, suspended pending outcome of

court hearing.

1994: John Fashanu (Aston Villa) #6000 for newspaper article

criticising Eric Cantona.

1992: Frank Sinclair (Chelsea) nine games. Billy McLafferty

(Stenhousemuir) banned for eight months.

1992: Vinnie Jones (Wimbledon) #20,000 and six-month suspension (ban

suspended for three years) for video nasty.

1989: Paul McGrath (Aston Villa) #8500 for newspaper criticism of

former club, Manchester United.

1989: Brian Clough (Nottinham Forest) #5000 for striking spectators at

League Cup match v QPR.

1988: Paul Davis (Arsenal) nine games.

1987: Steve Walsh (Leicester) nine games and Mark Dennis (QPR) eight


1987: Mick Kennedy (Portsmouth) #5000 (#2000 suspended) for newspaper


1974: Kevin Keegan (Liverpool) and Billy Bremner (Leeds) banned for

five weeks (10 games) after sending-off in Charity Shield at Wembley.

1971: Brian O'Neil and Denis Hollywood (Southampton) nine weeks.

1970: Ronnie Rees (Nottinham Forest) and George Best (Manchester

United) six weeks.

1969: Derek Dougan (Wolves) and John Fitzpatrick (Manchester United)

eight weeks.

1964: Peter Swan, David Lane (Sheffield Wednesday) and Tony Kay

(Everton) sine die, Swan and Lane's bans lifted in 1972.

1954: Willie Woodburn (Rangers) sine die, rescinded after two years.

1931: Cyril Hunter (Gateshead) suspended near the end of the '30-31

season until end of the following season. Former England defender Frank

Barson (Wigan Borough) banned for 82 days.

1921: Bradford's David McLean banished for three months.

1915: Billy Cook (Oldham) banned for 54 weeks after refusing to leave

the field after being sent-off against Middlesbrough.