When Wayne Rooney's elbow met the side of James McCarthy's head in the early stages of what turned out to be a 4-0 Manchester United win over Wigan Athletic, United fans would be forgiven for holding their breath in anticipation of referee Mark Clattenburg reaching into his pocket for a red card. A straight red, of course, would have meant a multiple game suspension for Rooney, taking him out of visits to Chelsea, Liverpool, and a quarter-final match against Arsenal at Old Trafford. No matter how poor the striker's form has been this year, that wouldn't have been particularly helpful news.
Oddly, Clattenburg elected neither to show red nor yellow to the 25 year-old, opting instead for a simple free kick to Wigan, which enraged the home supporters and rather annoyed Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal fans, who were all hoping that their lives would be made a little easier by Rooney's dismissal. Thoughts turned to the prospect of an FA ban, but the FA today has revealed that no action would be taken against Rooney for the foul, despite replays appearing to confirm that it was both malicious and dangerous.
This should come as no surprise at all: Mark Clattenburg took action against Rooney and United at the time of the foul, and was apparently satisfied after the match that he'd dealt with it appropriately. Although he had not, the FA's hands were tied by the free kick issued, as they can only act when it's clear that the referee did not see the incident in question. Thus, no suspension. It's all within the rules, of course, so there's hardly a question of a pro-United conspiracy going on - Chelsea fans would do well to remember that even if Rooney had been banend he could have a appealed and therefore been available for Tuesday's match.
So, the FA handled this within its own rules, which is all well and good, but does rather dodge around the question of whether those rules make sense. And considering that Rooney is getting away with a flying elbow that could easily have broken a jaw, the obvious answer to that question would be 'no'.