Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been handed a five match suspension and a £30,000 fine for the comments he made about referee Martin Atkinson after his side's 2-1 loss at Chelsea earlier this month.

The suspension will come into effect on March 22, which means Ferguson will have to be content with a place in the stands for the FA cup semi-final against cross-town rivals Manchester City along with Premiership clashes against West Ham, Fulham, Everton and the possible title-decider at Arsenal early in May.

The FA said in a statement, At an independent regulatory commission today (Wednesday) Sir Alex Ferguson was handed a touchline suspension for three matches and fined a total of £30,000.

The commission found the charge of improper conduct relating to media comments proven, following remarks made in relation to match official Martin Atkinson in post-match interviews after Manchester United's fixture with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday 1 March 2011.

Furthermore the commission invoked a two-match suspended touchline ban, relating to a previous charge of improper conduct in relation to media comments made in October 2009. Therefore Sir Alex Ferguson was ordered to a serve a five-match touchline ban commencing on Tuesday 22 March 2011.

After the 2-1 loss at Chelsea, an infuriated Ferguson said he feared the worst when he learnt that Martin Atkinson was the referee, before adding, You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway - and we didn't get that.

Atkinson failed to spot Chelsea defender David Luiz's clinical fouls, while already on a yellow card, on Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney. Ferguson also described the penalty, which eventually won Chelsea the game, as a soft penalty after Yuri Zhirkov went down after a Chris Smalling challenge in the box.

According to ESPNsoccernet, Ferguson's lawyers have been promised detailed written reasons for the suspension and it is understood that it will be studied before they decide on appealing the charge.

This isn't the first time Ferguson has been charged for comments regarding a match official. Rather, this is the fifth time in five years.