Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted a charge of improper conduct following his comments about the fitness of referee Alan Wiley.
Ferguson made the remarks about Wiley after the 2-2 draw with Sunderland on 3 October and has requested a personal hearing with the Football Association.
The 67-year-old Scot, who later apologised to Wiley, could face a hefty fine or a touchline ban from the FA.
Ferguson said following the match against Sunderland: “The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. He was not fit.”
He later said he was sorry for any personal embarrassment caused to Wiley, claiming the comments were intended to highlight “what I believe to be a serious and important issue in the game”.
Alan Leighton, head of officials’ union Prospect, told BBC Radio 5 live after Ferguson’s apology was “half-hearted”.
“We think that the attack on Alan Wiley was an attack on his professionalism, struck at the heart of his professionalism and was totally unwarranted.
“Since then we believe he has broadened out that attack to talk about the fitness of other referees and hasn’t retracted that main allegation that Alan was unfit.
“Some people suggest it is us picking on Sir Alex. I’m not interested in previous. If this had gone unchecked, other managers would have felt able to make similar slurs and that fundamentally brings the game into disrepute.”
Ferguson has a history of improper conduct charges for incidents involving referees.
In the 2007-08 season Ferguson was given a two-match touchline ban and was handed a £5,000 fine for remarks he made to referee Mark Clattenburg at half-time during a match at Bolton
And during the 2008-09 campaign Ferguson was banned for two games and fined £10,000 after admitting a charge of improper conduct.
The Scot came on to the pitch to remonstrate with referee Mike Dean after United beat Hull on 1 November.