The life of Riley

A career of insults
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The Independent Online

The referee at the centre of events that led up to what is being described as "Soupgate" has cost those lining up to criticise him more than £25,000 in fines.

The referee at the centre of events that led up to what is being described as "Soupgate" has cost those lining up to criticise him more than £25,000 in fines.

Mike Riley became a Premiership referee in 1996, only two years after joining the Football League list - a record he shares with Graham Barber - and almost immediately attracted controversy after Graeme Souness, then Southampton manager, and his Middlesbrough counterpart Bryan Robson, were fined £750 and £1,500 respectively for comments about one of his performances. Towards the end of that season, Arsenal's Ian Wright was fined £15,000 after berating the Yorkshireman during a game against Blackburn, although that fine also covered the offence of barging into a steward at another game.

The next biggest fine associated with the 39-year-old Director of Finance at Nelson and Colne College in Burnley, was meted out to West Ham's Steve Lomas, who was fined £6,000 in January 2001 for comments he had made to Riley after the Hammers' goalless draw against Chelsea the previous November.

Perhaps Riley's most acid critic has been the Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, who all but blamed Riley for his side's 2-1 defeat against Middlesbrough in last season's Carling Cup final, in the run-up to the European Championships in Portugal. Amazingly, he was fined only £1,500 for the following outburst: "If I make mistakes, I get the sack, but when Riley makes mistakes, he goes to Portugal. He will be a disgrace to English referees. We had our concerns about him before the match and he lived up to his reputation as far as we're concerned. I've never liked him as a referee for us and he has cost us the chance of winning."

Others who have incurred fines for speaking to or about Riley out of turn include Kieron Dyer (£500), Ade Akinbiyi (an undisclosed sum) and Micky Adams (£500).

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