Grant hit with improper conduct charge

LONDON - The English FA gave debt-ravaged Portsmouth something else to worry about besides their financial troubles when it charged manager Avram Grant on Thursday with improper conduct towards a referee.

"The charge relates to Grant's behaviour towards referee Kevin Friend at the conclusion of the first half of Portsmouth's match with Sunderland at Fratton Park on February 9," the governing body said in a statement on its website.

The 54-year-old coach confronted Friend after the halftime whistle, angry that two penalty claims were turned down and that his defender Ricardo Rocha, making his home debut following his loan move from Standard Liege, was dismissed after 12 minutes. The match finished 1-1.

On Wednesday, Portsmouth, the Premier League's bottom club, were given a stay of execution and granted extra time to fight a winding-up petition.

The south-coast club faced proceedings at London's High Court over a multimillion-pound unpaid tax bill after talks with the British government's Revenue and Customs department (HMRC) failed to produce an agreement.

It now has one week to draw up a statement of its financial affairs and will be back in court on a date after February 19.