FA backing for under-fire Poll as row rages over red cards

The Football Association and the Professional Game Match Officials Board, the body in charge of England's referees, remained absolute in their support for Graham Poll and his status as one of the country's leading match officials yesterday despite a week of controversy in which his integrity has been called into question.

Poll has received a show of support from his employers, who have retained him for arguably the most important fixture in the Premiership weekend, Manchester City's home game with Newcastle United ­ a contest with major implications for both managers, Stuart Pearce and Glenn Roeder. But it is still to be decided whether Poll will take charge at the crucial match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on 26 November.

Keith Hackett, head of the match officials' board, accepted last night that there had been a "blip" in relations between officials, players and managers ­ but still believes Poll is one of the leading officials in the English game. "Despite what people might think, I know Graham Poll is a world-class referee," Hackett told BBC Radio 5. "We have had a blip. I'm not going to overreact, and neither are the referees. There is criticism ­ we will examine very carefully the performances of the referees and we will look to improve."

Poll was accused of seeking to teach Chelsea a lesson in discipline by Ashley Cole on Sunday and of mishearing comments that resulted in James McFadden's dismissal for Everton three days later. He hasbeen backed by the FA's compliance department, which has let it be known to Everton that it is in complete agreement with his decision to dismiss McFadden in Wednesday's Carling Cup defeat by Arsenal and that the club would be unwise to take their grievances further.

The Scotland international was sent off for foul and abusive language in the 19th minute of the fourth-round tie, yet vehemently denied calling Poll a cheat after he had refused a penalty appeal by Andrew Johnson, and claimed that he had uttered "shite" instead. Pollstated in his official match report that McFadden had been dismissed for questioning his integrity with the word "cheat". The referee has, in the past, revealed how he would allow players to criticise his decisions but would never accept his professionalism being brought into doubt by such an accusation without recourse to a red card.

Everton attempted to resolve the argument by seeking a recording of the incident from the open microphone that Poll wore to communicate with his assistants but, as none exists, the truth lies in the official's word against McFadden's and the FA supports the referee.

The game at Goodison is the latest in a series of controversies involving Poll, but he retains the support of Hackett, who has been a staunch ally in the fallout from his handling of Chelsea's defeat at Tottenham on Sunday, when he disallowed a Didier Drogba goal and sent off John Terry for collecting two of the champions' six yellow cards.

Terry, Cole and Jose Mourinho all criticised Poll after that game and the FA is still studying the England full-back's comments with regard to a possible improper-conduct charge.

Mourinho maintained his criticism of Poll at Chelsea's Carling Cup defeat of Aston Villa on Wednesday. "Mr Poll was happy with his performance," he said. "But when you say no to a perfectly good goal, when you send off the England captain [Terry] and no one knows why and when you are the centre of attention in a game of high-quality football, I don't know why."

The fallout from the White Hart Lane game may not be over, as it may yet be deemed insensitive to put the Hertfordshire referee in charge of Chelsea's next high-profile game, at Old Trafford later this month.

For his own part, Poll is believed to be unhappy with the FA for not acting on his insistence that Chelsea had used threatening behaviour during the defeat, in particular when several players surrounded the referee to protest against his decision to book Michael Ballack.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Smart phones, dumb reading: Rebecca and Harry from ‘Teens’
tv
News
people
News
Amazon's drones were unveiled last year.
business
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Life and Style
Worth shelling out for: Atlantic lobsters are especially meaty
food + drink
Sport
Gareth Bale
footballPaul Scholes on how Real Madrid's Welsh winger would be a perfect fit at Old Trafford if he leaves Spain
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss