FA climbdown sees Ferguson and Ancelotti escape censure

Managers go unpunished despite breaking rule that bans talking about referees before a game

The Football Association's ruling that managers must not talk about referees before games was in tatters last night when the governing body exonerated Sir Alex Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti with a warning for praising Howard Webb before their clubs played each other on 8 May.

Manchester United manager Ferguson and his Chelsea counterpart Ancelotti were both "warned as to their future conduct" by the FA in a judgement that made a mockery of a rule that has proved one of the organisation's most difficult to implement. The disciplinary commission chairman – whose identity was not disclosed – said that the example of Ferguson "should be taken as a warning to all managers in the future that any such breach, even positive comments, are likely to result in a charge by the FA."

Remarkably, the FA only became aware of Ancelotti's comments about Webb when its attention was brought to an article in the Ealing Gazette, a weekly newspaper in west London, in which the Chelsea manager's remarks, made in his weekly Friday press conference, had been reported. Most national newspapers had judged them too innocuous to report.

The key problem for the FA in the future will be monitoring pre-match remarks. Not every manager's words are subjected to the same scrutiny as Ferguson's and even in his case not every word is published or broadcast. The governing body faces the possibility of having to ask journalists to report any breaches of the rule.

Ferguson had said that Webb, who was officially appointed to the game between United and Chelsea on 3 May, five days before the match, was "the best man for the job". He said at the time: "We are getting the best referee, there is no doubt about that. But [getting a bad decision] is definitely our big fear. We have the players to do it all right. We just hope it's our turn for a little bit of luck."

The same day, 6 May, that Ferguson made his remarks, Ancelotti had been asked whether he feared that the United manager could put pressure on the referee. The Chelsea manager instead praised the standard of refereeing in England and Webb in particular.

Ancelotti said: "I think it's not good to speak about the past, and also it's not good to speak about the referee because I don't want to put pressure on the referee. Howard Webb is a fantastic referee, he has experience, he has skills, but this is football and sometimes when things are not good you speak about the bad decisions against you."

Both were charged with improper conduct under rule E3 which forbids managers from talking about officials before matches. Sources at the FA pointed out yesterday that the ruling had been brought in at the beginning of last season with the support of all stakeholders in the game, including the clubs and the League Managers' Association, and that it had written to all managers on 21 October reminding them of their responsibilities.

Yesterday the FA Commission said of Ferguson's comments: "In this case, it was considered to be a minor breach, but a breach nevertheless, and it should be taken as a warning to all managers in the future that any such breach, even positive comments, [is] likely to result in a charge by the FA.'

The problem for the FA is that the next manager it charges is likely to argue on the basis of preferential treatment for Ferguson and Ancelotti. Ferguson himself had refused even to acknowledge the FA's improper conduct charge. In the end there was correspondence between the FA and the club yesterday.

The rule was brought in to prevent managers from speaking about referees, with remarks made by Everton's David Moyes about former referee Mike Riley two years ago the catalyst. Ahead of Everton's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United, to which Riley had been appointed, Moyes told the official Everton website: "A member of the press asked me if Mike Riley is a Manchester United supporter – I think that is something you would need to bring up with the FA."

Although it was not a direct accusation that would incur Moyes an FA charge, it was felt to be sufficiently damaging to warrant bringing in a rule in which managers were banned completely from talking about referees before games. This month was the first time in almost two seasons that the rule had been invoked.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence