Watford boss to escape FA action over ref remarks

November 20, 2006

Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd is set to escape disciplinary action for his contentious remarks about referees.

The FA are understood to view Boothroyd's tirade, aimed primarily at Chris Foy for his performance in the Hornet's 2-1 Premiership defeat by Portsmouth, as being tongue in cheek and just within the boundaries of acceptable comment.

Boothroyd said that referees who get decisions wrong 'should be put in the stocks and hit with rotten tomatoes', and added: 'Why should us poor managers put up with this?'

The FA's decision is likely to be greeted with disappointment by referees' chiefs, who had been hoping for a strong show of support from the game's governing body after renewed outbursts of criticism aimed at match officials.

Former top-flight referee David Elleray has claimed 'the game will die' if match officials are not shown greater respect, while even the League Managers' Association (LMA) believe Boothroyd went too far.

The Watford manager is also understood to have admitted as much to Premier League head of referees Keith Hackett.

Furthermore, no FA action is expected to be taken against Tottenham boss Martin Jol or Blackburn manager Mark Hughes for their strong criticism of Phil Dowd's performance during the 1-1 draw at Ewood Park.

It is understood Dowd's match report has confirmed he did not send Jol to the stands, despite the Dutchman believing otherwise.

Blackburn and Tottenham have both appealed against the red cards issued by Dowd, for the dismissal of Tugay for a professional foul on Hossam Ghaly, and for the sending off of Ghaly for an apparent elbow on Michael Gray in injury time. Both appeals will be heard tomorrow.

Elleray believes there needs to be a complete change of attitude towards officials.

He said: 'A great sadness in football at the moment is that officials are being pilloried left, right and centre for decisions they do or do not give.

'We need a cultural change. People need to recognise that the game will die without referees and we need to show them more respect.'

LMA chief executive John Barnwell insisted managers should be allowed to express their opinions about refereeing decisions but said he would ask them 'to be less vociferous'.

Barnwell told PA Sport: 'We draw the line when they get personal or say a referee is biased, but managers are entitled to say if they think a decision is wrong.

'The game is over-exposed and managers are asked for their opinions straight after the game when emotions are running high.

'If we completely sanitise the game and no-one is allowed to say anything afterwards then that will take the emotion out of football.'

Barnwell did claim Boothroyd might regret coming out with his outburst.

'Aidy is a young manager and he's learning as he goes along. His comments were something that he will probably look back and regret saying,' he said.

Meanwhile, Elleray believes football can learn some things from rugby union, where the referee is given far more respect by the players - but he does not think the game should follow rugby's lead down the path towards video technology.

He added: 'There is a school of thought which says that human error is part of sport and constant holding up of the game to review decisions is difficult and would spoil the flow.

'One of the greatest attractions of football over almost any other sport is that it's almost non-stop action.

'I went to Twickenham the other day to watch quite an exciting game, but it was constantly stopping, not least for video referee decisions.

'It was interesting again on Saturday. I had a ref-link where you could hear the referees talking to the players at Twickenham and it was fascinating the respect the referee was given, even when giving one or two controversial decisions, compared to football where match officials seem to be fair game for attacks by players, managers and fans, and even the media.'