Blog: FA show cowardice in bowing to Redknapp’s threats

The Football Association decided not to punish Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp yesterday for his disparaging comments about referee Mark Clattenburg following Nani’s highly controversial goal at the weekend. Martin Shillito believes it was the wrong decision and that it shows where the power really lies.

The criteria on which the FA bases its decisions regarding the punishment of managers should they make comments attacking the decisions or conduct of officials, states that the manager cannot make personally hurtful comments about a referee, insinuate he was biased or attack his integrity. As long as a manager does not cross these three lines in his seething orations, then he will not be hit with a fine or touchline ban.

So why is Harry Redknapp only being sent a letter of warning after he suggested Mark Clattenburg would collude with his two assistants after the game to make sure they said the same thing about the incident? Redknapp said: “When they get in their room, and I’ve said it before that they would always make sure that they sing from the same hymn sheet. They all get together and make a decision – it’s a fact.” If effectively suggesting the officials would lie to cover their own backs and try to rectify the mess they made is not damaging to the integrity of those officials, what is?

The simple and dangerous reason for the FA not formally punishing the Spurs boss seems to be his rather menacing threats in his press conference before Tottenham’s Champions League victory over Inter Milan. Redknapp, steely-faced and blood boiling, said: “Good luck to them [the FA] if they want to make an issue of what I said, then I’ll make some issues as well, don’t worry. Don’t expect me to come out on the TV after a game anymore. Ever.”

It is good that Redknapp is so honest, and no-one is asking him to come out in front of the TV cameras and be dishonest about what he feels is right or wrong regarding referees or any other subject. It is also a refreshingly good thing that the FA are allowing managers the right of free speech nowadays – something that has been highly disputable in the past.

However, to refuse to punish Redknapp despite him clearly overstepping the mark with some of his comments is not a good idea. It is cowardly, shows that managers can dictate to the authorities and it sets a dangerous precedent. Do not be surprised if you hear other managers making similar press boycott threats in the near future in an attempt to escape FA sanctions.

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