Ex-Premier League Ref Mark Halsey Was in Direct Contact By Phone and Text With Sir Alex Ferguson

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey was in direct contact by phone and text with Sir Alex Ferguson, according to the retired referee in his new book.

Ferguson was reportedly on friendly terms with a number of Premier League referees including Halsey. The revelation casts a negative light on the PGMOL (Professional Game and Match Officials Ltd), the referee organization. The PGMOL was quick to respond to the story, stating that “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.”

In his book, Halsey admits that he was in direct contact with Ferguson, asking him to support referee Mark Clattenburg when he was accused of racism towards John Obi Mikel. Here’s what Halsey says in his book:

’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.

“I may have spoken to him a lot and shared texts but he knew when I crossed that white line there were no favors.

“Players and managers would not respect you if you gave decisions based on friendship.”

While the contact between Halsey and Ferguson seems innocuous, it does make you wonder how cozy the relationship was between Ferguson and the referees, and whether referees were influenced or not.

26 thoughts on “Ex-Premier League Ref Mark Halsey Was in Direct Contact By Phone and Text With Sir Alex Ferguson”

  1. Two things are bad about this….. One is that it wasn’t disclosed at the time. Disclosure is really the key to all this stuff. When you bottle it up, it leads to the second problem and that is the mere *appearance* of impropriety. You cannot defend yourself against that appearance of bias.

    It makes more sense to disclosure that you’re chummy or that your texting friends or whatever at the time. Then the FA can look at everything and decide whether they think the ref in question can still conduct themselves professionally or not.

    But, it wouldn’t surprise me if he could still manage a United game just fine. I just played our Sunday league game tonight and the ref was the father of one of our players. He called it fair….maybe was even a little hard on us. If he could manage that, I’m sure a professional ref could do the same. Of course, it helped that everyone on the field knew exactly what his situation is/was.

  2. This is a great area, you want refs and managers having professional communications and relationships as it relates to the game.

    This will expose referees to questions of integrity, to suggest that refs are giving teams decisions based off personal relationships and favors is easy when the lines re blurred and 4th officials are refs and not just 4th officials.

    The system needs fixing and clearer protocols need to be implemented to lessen ambiguity.

    This is also a distraction from what Mikel said to clattenberg… That is a disgrace and should in itself lead to disciplinary action, it’s just not right…oh wait it’s CFC …again!

      1. A 4 game ban for threatening to break a referees legs is not enough. I was refereeing to civil action, I should have been more explicit.

        Threatening anyone with violence qualifies as intimidation, try saying what Mikel did to a police officer or your boss and see what happens….see see if you get a 4 day suspension from work.

        And yes IMO the threat of violence should be traveled the same everywhere…except sports you fight in obv.

  3. Those who think there is nothing to see here should remember that in any other sports such personal interactions are ban with match officials, and the reason for this is obvious, at the very least it gives an impression of corruption and bias.

    “It took time to gain Sir Alex Ferguson’s respect but in the end we had a very good relationship.” a referee musing this aloud is outrageous.

  4. This is a grey area, you want refs and managers having professional communications and relationships as it relates to the game.

    Utter rubbish. A ref comes to the ground, refs the game and leaves. There is no need for anymore contact than that.
    Everyone knows that ManU have been favored for years by refs and now we’re getting to the reasons. Disgraceful.

  5. Interesting to see if other referees have similar sorts of interactions, and if so, whether they had them with other manages besides Ferguson, and then on top of that for United specifically whether such interactions would continue with Moyes, and whether any interactions with Moyes at Everton would continue to Man Utd. Graham Poll in his bio that Moyes would be quite vocal against refs at times.

    In any case you can’t expect there to be ZERO communication between refs/managers, but maybe in a private setting like this it would be cause for concern.

  6. Why is this news? Everyone knows the FA(rce) has been sort of an auxiliary rulemaking/administrative entity running directly out of Old Trafford. Been that way for 20 years.

    Hell, throughout the history of the sport it was pretty much always that way – just substitute in whatever club it was that personified the establishment at the time.

  7. This is not really news. Everyone has known for a long time that Fergie and some of the officials were on very good terms.

    As much as an official will say that he will grant no favors to a manager he is on good terms with, the fact remains that such relationships do affect an official’s judgment at times. We’ve seen it time and again.

    1. Really? Could we say the same about players who are friends but play on different teams? Does a relationship between John Terry and Wayne Rooney affect their judgement and how much they’re willing to give on game day?

      For every supporter who will complain about refs giving their rival an advantage, other supporters will point out how the same ref denied them time and time again. All the while, simple solutions for these phenomena are ignored.


  8. It does look a little dodgy, but I bet it happens way more than Halsey’s isolated anecdote. This is really more about optics than actual inappropriate conduct. It goes back to an age old saying, “if supporters really knew what happens off the pitch…”

    Watching any National Hockey League in-depth, inside the game style show, it’s pretty clear the referees and players / coaches have all sorts of conversations during “the event” that have something to do with the game, but they also talk about all sorts of other stuff. It’s also made fairly apparent that a lot of players and refs cross paths during the off-season and interact as normal human beings do.

    The furor coming out of this is probably what it sounded like when fans first found out that players on different teams didn’t hate each others as much as the supporters do, or when supporters found out that managers often talked to one another, often seeking or offering advice.

    On top of that, this goes to further prove just how massive Sir Alex was in the game. He was respected universally; not just by officials and players, but other managers too. Is it explosive that Manager X (insert just about any name in EPL history except Mourinho, Wenger, Mancini, and any Liverpool manager) asked Ferguson for advice too?

    People seem to forget that even though they wear different colour uniforms, the coaches, managers, players and refs are all part of the same industry. The refs are pros. They can be people and do their jobs too.


  9. From season 2005/06 to 2012/13 (seven Premier League seasons), Halsey refereed Manchester United on 14 occasions in the EPL.
    Manchester United won every single one of those matches.

    Let us list them as it is clear that these are, on the whole, tricky matches against the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton and Villa…

    17/04/06 Spurs 1 Man Utd 2
    29/11/06 Man Utd 3 Everton 0
    16/12/07 Liverpool 0 Man Utd 1
    29/03/08 Man Utd 4 Aston Villa 0
    18/10/08 Man Utd 4 WBA 0
    06/12/08 Man Utd 1 Sunderland 0
    31/01/09 Man Utd 1 Everton 0 (Via a penalty)
    02/05/09 Middlesbrough 0 Man Utd 2
    29/10/11 Everton 0 Man Utd 1
    21/12/11 Fulham 0 Man Utd 5
    15/04/12 Man Utd 4 Aston Villa 0
    23/09/12 Liverpool 1 Man Utd 2 (Via a sending off and a penalty)
    01/12/12 Norwich 3 Man Utd 4 (With a penalty included)
    10/02/13 Man Utd 2 Everton 0

    14 matches, 14 wins, 36 goals for and just 5 against, only 3 matches where the opposition scored.


    1. Everyone knows that Fergie was a big bully and the officials were scared of him. The FA is full of pro United people. No surprise then that they are favored by the officials. No one wants to upset Fergie. That’s just the way it was. It will be interesting to see if Fergie will still be involved in United’s affairs and if he will call upon his “friends” in the FA again.

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