Premier League referees warned over manager contact after Halsey claims Ferguson texts

Premier League referees have been warned over the risks of contacting managers after former referee Mark Halsey claimed in his autobiography that he texted former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, the Daily Mirror has reported.

Halsey retired at the end of last season, as did Ferguson, and wrote that he contacted Ferguson to ask the Scot to defend Mark Clattenburg after Clattenburg was accused of racially abusing Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel. Halsey added that Mikel threatened to break Clattenburg’s legs during their confrontation in October 2012.

In his book, Added Time, Halsey wrote: “ “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.

Halsey added: “It took time to gain Sir Alex Ferguson’s respect but in the end we had a very good relationship,” continuing: “One thing should be made clear about my relationship with Sir Alex. I may have spoken to him a lot and shared texts but he knew when I crossed that white line there were no favours. Players and managers would not respect you if you gave decisions based on friendship.

The newspaper subsequently reveals that the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, the body responsible for appointing referees to Premier League games, were aware of the claims in Halsey’s book before the start of the season and took the opportunity to remind currently active officials not to speak with managers.

At the beginning of the season all our referees were reminded of the importance of adhering to the PGMOL protocols,” a spokesman said. “This covers a number of issues, including making direct contact with managers and players, which for integrity reasons is prohibited. Any new publicity will only heighten awareness of adhering to these important PGMOL guidelines.

Any referee found to have been in contract with a manager or player would face sanction by PGMOL, the Mirror notes.

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