FA refusal to act keeps Halsey under scrutiny

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A HORROR challenge in a recent Premier League game which twice went unpunished is continuing to cause a stir in the mass media.

Wigan’s Callum McManaman enraged Newcastle supporters, players and staff with his reckless tackle on the Magpies’ Massadio Haidara which went unseen by referee Mark Halsey.

I do not think there was any malicious intent behind the youngster’s challenge - I would certainly hope not anyway - it was simply a poorly-timed, ugly challenge which could have had serious implications for his victim.

Some have rallied to Halsey’s defence and said his view was blocked, therefore he was unable to make a decision and he had assistants who could have helped him out. Indeed, one of those assistants DID see the tackle, but it appears not to have made any difference.

I certainly understand Newcastle fans being upset because of the seriousness of the tackle and the fact that McManaman has escaped punishment.

If a player in your team was on the receiving end of a potential leg-breaker, of course you would be angry.

But salt was rubbed in the wound (not literally) of Newcastle when, having not got justice on the field, they weren’t going to get any retrospectively - which brings me to my main point.

The daft suits at the Football Association had a chance to do something about it and say ‘well okay, the referee made a mistake but there has to be consequences for the player involved’.

But no, McManaman walks away scot free because of the FA’s insistence on sticking to their archaic laws that if the incident was seen by a match official, then no other action can be taken.

Is it really the case that that is not reversible? Where’s the common sense?

Would the FA have not gained some respect for abandoning their principles and doing the right thing?

McManaman knows what he’s done and undoubtedly feels bad, as any true professional would, but a more logical decision from the FA could have helped draw a line under the whole unsavoury incident.

I thought it ironic that Halsey, a referee who was praised not so long ago for his bravery after returning to the game, having battled cancer, was then publicly pilloried by one of his own. Graham Poll urged Halsey to hang up his whistle after the Wigan game.

Speaking on the Sports Breakfast show, Poll said: “The modern footballer is fitter than ever and you have to question whether a 50-year-old can keep up with play sufficiently and have the mental sharpness to make decisions under that intense scrutiny.

“He’s been through a tough time in his life and no one wishes that on anyone.

“I just hope Mark looks at it and thinks, ‘is it time?

“Is this a signal to go?

“Let’s bow out with some grace and dignity and go. It’s time for me to call it a day.’”

Poll, of course, was the referee who once showed three yellow cards to a player without sending them off.

Then of course came the predictable online backlash, with trolls taking their usual cowardly path to Twitter, issuing death threats to someone who has already had the grim spectre of death hanging over him at a premature age.

Twitter administrators took swift action against one supporter who used a hashtag to make such a threat, with the culprit soon up in court.

Referees are always sitting ducks for wrong decisions, particularly in a high-profile league such as the Premier League where games are beamed to all corners of the globe.

Paying supporters are entitled, within reason, to say what they think and referees know their actions will always be held open to account, and rightly so.

It’s just a shame that one major mistake which could have been dealt with more admirably by the FA, could result in someone calling it a day.