West Bromwich Albion striker has until Thursday to decide whether to fight the charge but his club have told him he is responsible for his own legal costs
Nicolas Anelka is facing the prospect of a 10-match ban after the Football Association charged him over the quenelle gesture, and West Bromwich Albion have warned the forward that he must pay for his own legal representation.
Anelka, the former France international, will be punished with a lengthy suspension if found guilty for the alleged 'Nazi salute in reverse' and has been told to appoint his own lawyer as he considers whether to appeal before Thursday's 6pm deadline.
The FA has been investigating the incident since the end of December and deemed the gesture to be "abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper", while they also claim that it was "an aggravated breach in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief".
Anelka has two days to decide whether to fight the charge, which is punishable with a minimum five-match ban under new rules designed to eradicate racial discrimination.
However, it is believed the punishment could be more severe because of the controversy created by the gesture, which has been described as anti-Semitic by Jewish organisations, while the fact he has failed to make a public apology is also expected to count against him.
If he accepts the charge he will be sanctioned by a three-strong independent panel, chaired by a QC, within a matter of days. Anelka could contest the charge, which may add another several weeks onto the disciplinary process, but the FA is determined to ensure a swift resolution and avoid the prospect of a long-running case similar to the Luis Suárez race row, which ran for more than two months
The FA's statement said: "The FA has charged the West Bromwich Albion player Nicolas Anelka following an incident that occurred during the West Ham United versus West Bromwich Albion fixture at the Boleyn Ground on 28 December 2013. It is alleged that, in the 40th minute of the fixture, Anelka made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3.
"It is further alleged that this is an aggravated breach, as defined in FA Rule E3, in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief."
Albion are determined to ensure the 34-year-old is granted a fair hearing but view the matter as a personal issue, rather than one which involves the club, and told Anelka at their training ground yesterday morning they would not be paying any money towards legal fees.
Anelka's contract also expires at the end of the season and should he be punished with a suspension longer than eight games, the club could even look into terminating his deal.
Albion responded with their own statement later yesterday, admitting that he would continue to be available for selection while the process was ongoing: "West Bromwich Albion has noted the FA's charge against Nicolas Anelka regarding the gesture he made after scoring his first goal against West Ham United on December 28. Anelka has received a 34-page document explaining the allegations against him and informing him that he has until 6pm on Thursday to respond. The player is now considering his options. Under FA rules, Anelka remains available for first-team selection until The FA's disciplinary process has reached its conclusion. Following this, the club will conclude its own internal inquiry."
The FA has come under growing pressure for their perceived failure to deal with the investigation more swiftly, and anti-racism group Kick It Out again criticised the governing body after the charge was announced. The verdict yesterday comes after more than three weeks of waiting.
Kick It Out said: "The FA has previously demonstrated its commitment to taking effective and swift action to deal with all forms of abusive conduct in football, and has spent a longer time than desirable in order to give careful consideration to the allegations made in this case.
"Kick It Out awaits Anelka's response to the charge before making any further comment. The campaign hopes that this matter can now be quickly concluded."
Anelka's potential ban is an unwelcome prospect for new head coach Pepe Mel, whose team are only four points above the relegation zone.
Albion sold striker Shane Long to Hull City for £7 million last week and the loss of Anelka would leave Mel severely short of attacking options, increasing the pressure on England Under-21 international Saido Berahino and £6 million summer signing Victor Anichebe to score the goals to guarantee survival.
Despite Long's sale Mel has been told there will be no transfer funds to spend this month, though chairman Jeremy Peace could allow a short-term loan signing if, as expected, Anelka is banned.