Keith Hackett has been cleared of any responsibility for the decision to overrule John Terry's red card at Manchester City last Saturday. Sir Alex Ferguson accused Hackett of being behind the move, which frees the Chelsea captain to play against United this weekend.
Ferguson, who has been involved in angry exchanges with Hackett before, believes the general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board personally stepped in to get Terry off the hook after referee Mark Halsey refused to overturn his original decision.
However, the PGMO insists Hackett was not involved in any about-turn at all. "All matters of discipline are an issue for the FA – and them alone," said a spokesman for the organisation.
Ferguson could now find himself in trouble with the Football Association over his latest outburst. Having already seen Nemanja Vidic suspended following his sending-off at Liverpool, the United manager at least felt Terry's absence would even the situation up in Sunday's Premier League encounter.
"Hackett told Halsey to rescind the red card but he would not do it," said Ferguson. "If it had been a Manchester United player Hackett would not have done this." Halsey has not commented on the matter and has been informed he will take charge of the League Two meeting between Chester and Shrewsbury on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Wigan manager Steve Bruce hopes Fifa "throw the book at the morons" who last week racially abused Emile Heskey.
The Latics striker was subjected to racist taunts during England's 4-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Croatia in Zagreb. The Football Association have since formally complained, and now world football's governing body is looking into the matter.
If found guilty, Croatia's football federation could face sanctions three months after being fined £10,000 by Uefa after Croatia supporters were found guilty of "displaying a racist banner and showing racist conduct" during the Euro 2008 match with Turkey.
Bruce, though, is looking for a severe punishment on this occasion. "Let's hope they throw the book at the morons," said Bruce. "I'm glad they've made a stance because we thought we had seen the end of it, so I hope they give them more than just a rap across the knuckles and really sanction them. At the end of the day, it's pathetic."