Gregory fumes after FA reject appeal

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John Gregory, the Aston Villa manager, has accused referees of acting "almost like policemen" and fourth officials of being "jobsworths" after losing his appeal against a Football Association fine in Birmingham yesterday.

John Gregory, the Aston Villa manager, has accused referees of acting "almost like policemen" and fourth officials of being "jobsworths" after losing his appeal against a Football Association fine in Birmingham yesterday.

Gregory was hoping a three-man FA disciplinary commission would overturn a £2,000 fine handed out after the fourth official, Jeff Winter, had reported him for comments aimed at the referee, Uriah Rennie, at Newcastle in August. But they threw out his appeal after a 50-minute hearing at St Andrew's and also ordered Gregory to pay the costs. It left the Villa manager, who admitted to calling Rennie an "idiot", feeling disappointed but unrepentant.

He said: "The fine was totally unjust and excessive because every manager in the country utters words which are directed at referees every week. I'm very disappointed with the decision of the commission because I thought the charges brought against me by the FA were very trivial.

"I find it very hard to accept that Mr Winter reported me in the first place. I called the referee an idiot and used a few expletives as well. I got reported for that. I find that very trivial, and the hearing has been a complete waste of time for everybody. It cost me £2,000, while three or four people from the FA have had to come here today. It's a waste of everybody's time.

"If the fourth official was to report a manager every Saturday for comments he directed at referees then we would have FA commissions meeting every day of the week."

Gregory vowed to continue his attacks against referees for poor performances and in recent weeks he has been critical of Winter, Rob Harris and David Elleray.

"Unfortunately, I don't think anything will get done," Gregory said. "What we need to get back to is what that game is all about - and that's the players on the pitch. One or two officials this season have upset a lot of us, not just me, but many people throughout the divisions."

By way of response, the former World Cup referee, Pat Partridge, has urged Gregory and other managers to follow the example of Gianluca Vialli when it comes to reacting to controversial decisions.

Partridge was impressed by the Chelsea manager's comments after the recent defeat at Liverpool where two of his players were dismissed by the referee, Mike Reed. "If I had the opportunity, I would have shaken Vialli's hand, because at long last we had someone saying 'we all make mistakes and we have got to get on with it'," Partridge said. "He didn't look for any complaint about the way the game had been handled. He thought his players and the referee had made mistakes but he didn't go overboard about it. He was being open and honest. So, if he can do it, then why don't other managers follow suit?"

Partridge said he had never been verbally abused during his refereeing career but he claimed that a lack of communication was threatening the relationship between match officials and players and managers. "There was only one manager, who shall remain nameless, and he passed a comment as he went into the dressing room," Partridge said. "I told him to come and face me but he wouldn't and closed the door behind him so I reported him. But we communicated in those days. We could get on with each other.

"There is always room for communication between everyone in the game and, the sooner we get back to that, the better for all concerned."

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