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.