Prospect, the union which represents referees, called for ‘severe punishment’ following Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘fat ref’ jibe last weekend. The Scot accused referee Alan Wiley of not being fit enough to take charge of a Premier League game following United’s draw with Sunderland at Old Trafford.
Alan Leighton, the national secretary of Prospect, signalled the referee’s fight-back, calling for a suspension in the case. The FA has already asked Ferguson to explain his comments, where the Scot suggested Wiley was taking long breaks during the match due to a lack of match fitness.
“I don’t know what Sir Alex earns but a small fine or a touchline suspension would be like water off a duck’s back to him so I think there has to be some recognition that this is a serious allegation that needs to be properly dealt with and punished severely,” said Leighton.
“There are issues around suspension from the job, that would be new territory that hasn’t happened before but I think the FA has to grab the nettle on this one.
“We have to be talking about punishments that are going to really lead to a change in behaviour.”
Leighton, who has appointed himself judge and jury, called for the FA to act firmly in the name of the Respect Campaign to restore Alan Wiley’s reputation.
Meanwhile former referee – latterly mouthpiece-for-hire – Jeff Winter called Ferguson a “coward and a bully,” suggesting that Wiley sue the United chief.
“It was a cowardly attack – Sir Alex wouldn’t have said it to Alan Wiley’s face,” Winter told The Guardian.
“Every game Alan Wiley takes charge of now where he makes a decision which upsets some fans is going to result in chants of ‘You’re not fit to referee’, he’s going to be known as the ‘unfit ref’. Sir Alex won’t care though. He’s a knight of the realm and he thinks he’s untouchable, bullet proof.
“But he’s also a bully. Alan Wiley had not contributed in any shape or form to United only drawing and he cannot fight back. It won’t happen but, if I was Alan, I’d be tempted to sue Sir Alex.”
Given the media-frenzy that has now been whipped up by Ferguson’s comments it is likely that the FA, which has a history of excessively punishing United players, will hand Ferguson a warning and fine for the comments.
However, under the FA’s own rules, it is hard to pinpoint how the association could charge its leading manager. In the summer the FA issued an edict that stopped managers from speaking about officials before matches, although they are free to discuss referee’s performances in the context of the game. However, the rules allow no implication of bias or comments of a personal nature.
Ferguson’s comments, created to divert attention away from his players, must surely fall under the auspices of contextual comments about the referee’s performance. This is true whether Ferguson’s comments are correct or not.
Tellingly, Winter, a narcissistic freemason, also claimed that officials are now less likely to award United decisions following Ferguson’s attack on one of their own.
“I think Sir Alex may have overstepped the line this time and he may be about to get his comeuppance,” he said.
“I think referees will be so incensed about this that Sir Alex may find that United no longer get the benefit of the doubt on certain decisions.”
Food for thought next time Ferguson wants to accuse referees of bias.