Rafael Benítez has been charged by the Football Association after he questioned the appointment of referee Andrew Madley before his side's victory over Preston North End that secured promotion from the Championship.
Benítez said he was “surprised” at the decision to allow the match official from Huddersfield to take charge of the game, given his home town club were directly below Newcastle in the table and were still competing with them for an automatic promotion place.
Managers are not allowed to talk about any match official before a game takes place, but Benítez was drawn into commenting on the appointment after Newcastle’s request for a change in referee was rejected by the Football League.
“I was really surprised with that situation,” said Benítez last month. “We have to trust the referees. We have not had a lot of luck with them.
“I always trust the referees and hopefully everything will be fine and we are not talking about the referees at the end of the game.
“We were asking [the EFL on whether they could make a change] and they say that they are happy with it and we have to carry on.
“We don’t have any problem. We will do our best to avoid a situation that nobody will understand.”
Newcastle won the game that assured them automatic promotion to the Premier League comfortably 4-1 and Madley was not caught up in any controversy.
However, the FA have decided to charge Benítez with misconduct. A statement on the FA website read: “Rafael Benítez has been charged with misconduct in respect of comments he made about the appointed match referee, prior to Newcastle United’s game against Preston North End on Monday 24 April 2017.
“It is alleged his comments were improper and/or brought the game into disrepute contrary to FA Rule E3(1). He has until 6pm Tuesday 9 May 2017 to respond to the charge.”