Ferguson explains referee remarks

Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson criticised Wiley’s fitness

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has sent an explanation to the Football Association of the comments he made about referee Alan Wiley.

The FA had asked Ferguson to explain himself after he lambasted Wiley following United’s 2-2 draw at home to Sunderland on 3 October.

“The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. He was not fit. It was ridiculous,” said Ferguson.

The Scot apologised to Wiley on 10 October for any embarrassment caused.

“It was never my intention to bring the focus of intense media attention on Mr Wiley,” he said.

However, Alan Leighton, head of officials’ union Prospect, described the apology as “half-hearted”.

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While managers are allowed to make comments on an official’s performance, the FA insists they must not imply bias, question their integrity or engage in what could be construed as a personal attack.

Ferguson’s comments suggested that Wiley was not fit enough to keep up with the pace of the action at Old Trafford.

“You see referees abroad who are as fit as a butcher’s dog. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player,” added Ferguson, who was also critical of Wiley’s decision-making.

Ferguson twice headed towards the touchline during the second half to make his feelings known about decisions made by the officials.

At one point, after he felt midfielder Anderson had been denied a penalty, he jabbed his finger at fourth official Mike Dean and then pointed angrily to the pitch.

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