Football: Villas-Boas' future as manager at Zenit uncertain after he gets six-match ban

Zenit St. Petersburg’s players pose with the trophy after winning their Russian Super Cup match against Lokomotiv Moscow at the Petrovsky stadium in St. Petersburg on July 12, 2015.
Zenit St. Petersburg’s players pose with the trophy after winning their Russian Super Cup match against Lokomotiv Moscow at the Petrovsky stadium in St. Petersburg on July 12, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Andre Villas-Boas' future as manager of Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg appeared to hang in the balance on Friday after he was handed a six-match ban.

On Thursday, the Russia Football Union (RFU) disciplinary panel banned the former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham coach for six matches for pushing the reserve referee during Zenit's league game with newly-promoted Samara, which Zenit lost 3-1.

Villas-Boas refused to comment on the decision but the head of the disciplinary panel,Artur Grigoryants, said the Portuguese manager had apologised for his behaviour.

"The penalty may be suspended after Villas-Boas serves at least two matches," Grigoryants said.

The club, meanwhile, expressed their concern about the situation.

"For Zenit the ban of the club's manager is definitely a serious problem," a club statement read. "The club will announce the decision on the case after discussing the situation with its head coach."

Villas-Boas, 37, has already disclosed that he had asked Zenit to release him from his contract at the end of last season but the club had refused.

Meanwhile, Zenit's lacklustre league performances have angered the club's supporters, who directed abusive chants at Villas-Boas during the Samara match, demanding his sacking.

There were also rumours that Zenit were in talks with former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp as a possible successor.

Zenit are currently third in the Russian Premier League, six points behind the leaders CSKA.