Manager Ferguson admits FA charge

Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson criticised Wiley’s fitness

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted a charge of improper conduct for his comments on referee Alan Wiley’s fitness.

Ferguson made the remarks about Wiley after the 2-2 draw with Sunderland on 3 October and has requested a personal hearing with the Football Association.

The 67-year-old Scot, who later apologised to Wiley, could face a hefty fine or a touchline ban from the FA.

The referees’ union Prospect has called for Ferguson to be banned.

BBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar said: “The improper conduct charge seemed inevitable given the anger among Wiley’s colleagues and the FA’s determination to promote respect for game officials.

“The United manager admitted in match programme notes that he’d been angry with his team’s performance that day, and that he thought Wiley was a good referee.

“He’ll now have the chance to explain his remarks in person. A touchline ban of some kind seems the most likely outcome.”

Ferguson said following United’s draw with Sunderland at Old Trafford: “The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. He was not fit.”


He later said he was sorry for any personal embarrassment caused to Wiley, claiming the comments were to highlight “what I believe to be a serious and important issue in the game”.

Alan Leighton, head of officials’ union Prospect, told BBC Radio 5 live after Ferguson’s apology that he felt it was “half-hearted”.

Leighton calls for Ferguson ban

He called on Ferguson to receive a Uefa-type coaching ban, which is more than a touchline ban.

Leighton later told BBC Sport: “We think that the attack on Alan Wiley was an attack on his professionalism, struck at the heart of his professionalism and was totally unwarranted.

“Since then we believe he has broadened out that attack to talk about the fitness of other referees and hasn’t retracted that main allegation that Alan was unfit.

“Some people suggest it is us picking on Sir Alex. I’m not interested in previous. If this had gone unchecked, other managers would have felt able to make similar slurs and that fundamentally brings the game into disrepute.”

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

If this had gone unchecked, other managers would have felt able to make similar slurs and that fundamentally brings the game into disrepute
Alan Leighton

Ferguson has a history of improper conduct charges for incidents involving referees.

In the 2007/08 season Ferguson was given a two-match touchline ban and was handed a £5,000 fine for a rant at referee Mark Clattenburg at half-time during a match at Bolton

And during the 2008/09 campaign Ferguson was banned for two games and fined £10,000 after admitting a charge of improper conduct.

The Scot came on to the pitch to remonstrate with referee Mike Dean after United beat Hull on 1 November.

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