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Fletcher loses red card appeal

No big surprise, but it is official that Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher will miss the Champions League final against Barcelona after failing with an appeal against a red card.

The Scot was sent off for a tackle on Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas minutes from the end of United’s 4-1 aggregate semi-final victory, despite appearing to take the ball.

Barcelona defenders Eric Abidal and Daniel Alves also failed to win appeals against suspensions and both miss the final.

Abidal was sent off by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo for an innocuous challenge on Nicolas Anelka in the second leg of the semi-final against Chelsea. Alves picked up a yellow card for a foul on Ashley Cole.

European football’s governing body initially said the only grounds for appeal were in a case of mistaken identity but United, encouraged by comments from UEFA general secretary David Taylor, appealed on compassionate grounds.

However, UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body, said that the two clubs had failed to get their appeals in on time, but even if they had made the deadline they would have been rejected.

“There were no grounds for contesting the referees’ original decisions,” said a statement.

All three players will serve one-match bans during the final in Rome on May 27, although UEFA added the clubs would have three days in which to lodge appeals against this latest decision.

The loss of both Abidal and Daniel Alves are huge for Barca, who will be missing 3/4’s of their back four against United.