Ferguson: Managers already respect referees

MANCHESTER - Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson poured scorn on Friday on a Premier League initiative to improve the behaviour of players and managers towards match officials next season.

Ferguson, serving a five-match touchline ban for post-match criticism of referees, questioned the need for the plan announced by league chief executive Richard Scudamore on Thursday, saying managers already respect match officials.

"Richard Scudamore doesn't have a lot to do, does he?" Ferguson told a news conference. "He's trying to elevate the Premier League. Fine. That's good, that's his job. But I don't think managers disrespect referees.

"I get punished for what I considered was fair comment, they (the FA) didn't, and they gave me a five-match ban, that's fine. But that doesn't mean to say we don't respect referees. It's a difficult job, we all know that.

"You wouldn't referee a game, would you? Neither would I. But we do need them. I do think Richard is jumping off a high board here - a high diving board - without thinking about it."

Managers regularly complain about refereeing decisions in post-match interviews, often conducted within minutes of the final whistle, while players berate officials during games.

Scudamore said on Thursday the 20 Premier League clubs had agreed to improve behaviour and that by next season there would be plans in place to reduce the number of incidents.


Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, another manager who has been punished for comments about officiating, backed the initiative but said respect needed to be reciprocated.

"It's a good campaign. I must return one question - will the campaign be respected?", he told a news conference.

"Because that is always very difficult. Respect, you want that on all fronts.

"We are always under pressure, the managers, and we go sometimes a little bit too far but you must say many times it's just after the game in moments when it is difficult for any manager to keep completely the right distance.

"Sometimes the referees get too close to the players as well," added Wenger.

On the other side of North London, Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp agreed with Wenger that it was easy to say something in the heat of the moment immediately after a match.

"There should be a cooling down period to give people a chance to think about what has happened in the game and even a chance to speak to the referee about the decisions he has made after the game before you go on the TV," he said.

"Because it's difficult at times, it has cost you a game - bad decisions - and it's not easy to be really constructive straight after a game."

Everton manager David Moyes said respect had to be earned and referees needed to explain their decisions better, while Blackpool boss Ian Holloway said the simple solution to avoid hot-headed tirades would be introducing instant replays.

"We just want the referees to get it as right as possible so just give them the technology that's already there," said Holloway. "It's completely nonsensical rubbish that we can't just change it right now."