HEAD coach James Ford has revealed York City Knights began preparing for his impending touchline ban as early as last week.

As first reported on thepress.co.uk, Ford was handed a two-match suspension and £75 fine at his Rugby Football League disciplinary hearing on Tuesday night, after pleading guilty to a Grade 'D' charge of using foul and abusive language towards the fourth official during the top-of-the-table humdinger at Bradford Bulls nine days earlier.

Ford will now be banned from the touchline and changing rooms for the Knights' upcoming League One games against North Wales Crusaders on Sunday and away to West Wales Wales Raiders the following Saturday, when he will hand reins over to number two Chris Spurr.

However, he revealed they had something of a practice run during last Sunday's win over Coventry Bears, with Spurr taking the half-time team talk and giving out many of the instructions during the match.

"Chris took over at half-time and was leading during the game as well," explained Ford.

"Knowing I'd be pleading guilty (after receiving the charge last week), we were expecting some form of a ban, so it was good practice for the boys to get used to Chris and for Chris to get used to them."

Ford often watches matches from the stands anyway, relaying messages to the touchline from there. However, it is thought the ban will rule out use of comms.

He will turn to player/assistant-coach Graeme Horne and team manager Will Leatt to also play bigger roles this fortnight.

Said Ford: "I have a great backroom staff and I'm sure they will step up on game day.

"I'll be relying on Chris, Will and Graeme but I have a lot of confidence in them.

"They've been outstanding members of the backroom team and the boys have immense amount of respect for them, so I don't see it causing too much of an issue."

A Grade 'D' charge usually comes with a three- to five-match suspension but, following the two games against the Welsh outfits, Ford will be able to take full charge again for the visit of old arch-rivals Hunslet on August 19.

He admitted he had "let the boys down" but was "thankful" the disciplinary panel heard his case.

"I feel I've let the boys and the club down," he said. "We all make mistakes and in the heat of the moment and when under pressure I made a mistake. I'm very keen to learn from that.

"It's the first time in 20 years in rugby league that I've been at a disciplinary hearing and I don't intend to go back.

"I'm thankful the panel listened to my case and I accept the punishment.

"I pleaded guilty - I did swear at him and I'm embarrassed by it. I've apologised and I know I need to be better."