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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee