Ex-Referee Mark Halsey Boasts of 'Very Good Relationship' with Sir Alex Ferguson
Mark Halsey, the former Premier League referee who retired in the summer, has written an autobiography of his time in black.
And in quotes that are being serialised in The Sun (subscription required: quotes via Dirty Tackle blog), Halsey claims that he had built up such a good relationship with the then Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson that he was able to get Fergie to speak out in defence of another referee.
The incident was attracting huge press coverage, and Halsey says that his relationship with Ferguson, forged over time, allowed him to pick up the phone and ask for the former Manchester United manager's help.
As the serialisation claims:
I took matters in my own hands and rang Sir Alex asking him to speak out.
He agreed and used his Friday press conference to say he could not conceive of Mark saying such things. It helped the situation a great deal.
It took time to gain Sir Alex Ferguson's respect but in the end we had a very good relationship.
One thing should be made clear about my relationship with Sir Alex.
I may have spoken to him a lot and shared texts but he knew when I crossed that white line there were no favours.
The last line, however, is the talking point that stems from the quotes. As Dirty Tackle observes, relationships between players and managers of this kind are not allowed.
For fans who are convinced that Manchester United got the rub of decisions during Sir Alex's long and successful career, this will do little to persuade them otherwise.
And the Daily Mirror claims that the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, who supply the referees for domestic fixtures in England, have already spoken out, suggesting by implication that the type of relationship Halsey speaks of with Ferguson is not permitted:
At the beginning of the season all our referees were reminded of the importance of adhering to the PGMOL protocols.
This covers a number of issues, including making direct contact with managers and players, which for integrity reasons is prohibited.
Ferguson has not made any comment on the claims. He was notably outspoken on referees during his time as manager at Old Trafford, even admitting at the end of his career that he did pressure them into giving "Fergie Time"—added minutes in injury time—over the course of his tenure, as reported by Nick Pearce of The Telegraph.
And, based on Halsey's claims, he even gave one or two of them his phone number...
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