Sir Alex Ferguson has been charged by the Football Association for comments made about an assistant referee at Tottenham Hotspur on 20 January.

The Manchester United manager was heavily critical of Simon Beck after the 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, in which Spurs scored their equaliser in stoppage time. Speaking after the game, Ferguson expressed his anger that what he regarded as a "clear" penalty to United as Steven Caulker challenged Wayne Rooney on Beck's side of the field had not been given. "It was a clear decision. And he [Beck] was 10, maybe 12 yards away from the incident and he doesn't give it. And yet he gave everything else," Ferguson said at the time.

Ferguson subsequently claimed his club had "history" with Beck following the official's failure to rule out a Didier Drogba goal for Chelsea on the grounds of offside in 2010. "There was no way we were going to get a decision from [Beck]," Ferguson said.

He added: "The stand-side linesman didn't give us a thing all day" and "we never got anything on that side of the pitch."

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, English football's governing body said: "The FA has today charged Sir Alex Ferguson in relation to post-match media comments made following Manchester United's game at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday 20 January 2013.

" It is alleged the Manchester United manager breached FA Rule E3 in that he implied that the match official was motivated by bias. Ferguson has until 4pm on Friday 1 February 2013 to respond to the charge."

Given the strength of his feelings on the matter, it is unlikely that Ferguson will let the affair pass without further comment or challenge. He has already supplied a written explanation of his comments to the FA and, when asked last Friday if he believed the matter was personal, the Scot said: "That is what I have put in my letter exactly. But you never know the FA. We are high profile and the profile of me is such that the FA naturally panic as soon as the press criticise them. I think that is what you will find. That is why they have sent me a letter.

"Whether I think it is unfair or not doesn't matter to them really at this point. I just think it is more about me than what I have said."

In March 2011, Ferguson was handed a five-game touchline ban and fined £30,000 when found guilty of questioning the integrity of a referee, Martin Atkinson, after another game with Chelsea. Yet earlier this season, Ferguson escaped punishment for a high-profile confrontation with officials, including the referee Mike Dean, during a controversy-filled match with Newcastle United.