Mark Halsey, the former premier league referee in the UK has admitted that he broke the protocol set out by the Professional Game and Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) when he made direct contact with Sir Alex Ferguson the then manager of Manchester United and this has provoked some searching questions as to the nature of relationships between managers, club officials, players and referees.
There will be those who will argue that this was a one-off situation. However, the desperation with which Halsey appears to put himself in the pocket of one of the country’s leading football figures is surely a cause for concern.
“It took time to gain Sir Alex Ferguson’s respect,” Halsey says, “but in the end we had a very good relationship.” What the hell does that mean?
These words don’t suggest that these conversations were a one-off “firefighting” mission (reference to the alleged racist remark made by former colleague and current referee Mark Clattenberg against Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel last year). Halsey claims he phoned Sir Alex to get him to support the embattled referee at his regular Friday press conference.
Halsey, in response to the mounting criticism of his revelations has said that referees should be encouraged to socialise with players and managers and states that any suggestion that he was influenced in any way are completely without foundation.
“I’m not a person who has ever been corrupt or shown favouritism. The rows I have had with managers will show that. People need to know the full story.” Is this guy off his rocker? Was he dropped on his head when he was a baby?
The Premier League has decided not to respond to the revelations from Halsey, among others that the organisation wanted him out soon after he returned following a battle with throat cancer.
He retired at the end of last season (2012/2013), forgoing the £50,000 that all the top-flight referees are paid at the end of their careers which is also accepted as a contract not to disclose the details of their working lives.
It has long been known that Halsey was planning to write a book and he has now been isolated from the select group of referees.
Mr Halsey has also admitted in the past that Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea boss, paid for a holiday in the Algarve (Portugal) for him and his wife who has myeloid Leukaemia.
Asked whether he felt those relationships overstepped the mark (excuse the pun), given the referees’ need for impartiality, Mark Halsey said that was not the case: “People have been crying for how many years for referees, managers, and players to come closer.”
He added: “We are a football family and we need to work together. Clubs have two visits a season where the referees go in and train with the players and speak to the managers. What’s the difference? What’s the difference when they have a day with a club and train with the club?
I’ll tell you what the difference is Mr Halsey. Referees should NOT be associating in anyway whatsoever with clubs, managers, players or coaches other than in an official capacity. There are plenty of other venues for you and your colleagues to train.
You can do what we all did to prepare for games. Find a strip of grass and train there.
I trained on my own on the road and on the beach.
Some match officials are not that fortunate to have premier league clubs in their vicinity.
Familiarity breeds contempt, as the saying goes, and this has now been proven with your own revelations.
Is this the tip of the iceberg? Is there more to come? We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.
About the author: Dr Errol Sweeney (PhD) BBA Dip.PM, aka “The Hanging Judge,” is a former L.o.I and SA Premier League Referee, World Cup Referee & Assistant Referee Coach & Mentor. He coached/mentored a referee to 2 World Cups, Olympic Games, Confederations Cup, 2 U/17 FIFA World Cups and 4 African Nations Cups. He also writes on his own blog at SuperSport.