Chris Coleman may have to answer a Football Association charge for his outburst against the referee Mark Halsey after an inquiry was launched at Soho Square yesterday. The Fulham manager is likely to receive a letter asking him to explain his tirade following Saturday’s home defeat to Chelsea.
Coleman called for Halsey to be removed from future Fulham matches because of his involvement in previous controversies at Craven Cottage and implied the referee was biased towards bigger clubs such as Chelsea.
The manager’s comments were rooted in history. Halsey’s coercion by Arsenal players into changing his mind about awarding Fulham a penalty two years ago resurfaced on Saturday when he denied spot-kick claims from the home side but gave one to Chelsea in their 2-0 win.
The Fulham manager said he hoped Halsey would not be appointed again “against Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea”. He added: “For his sake and ours, he shouldn’t be here.”
Coleman’s comments will be a test of the FA’s determination to eradicate excessive criticism of match officials and his demand not to have Halsey again is certain to be rebuffed by the referees’ chief, Keith Hackett, whose determination not to be influenced is likely to rebound on the manager.
Hackett has shown a tough streak this season. The plea by the Sheffield Wednesday manager, Paul Sturrock, for Premiership referees to be barred from the Championship after Steve Bennett’s performance in a defeat to Leeds was met by the selection of another elite official, Alan Wiley, for the next game at Hillsborough.