Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has criticised the decision to rescind the red card Chelsea captain John Terry received last weekend.
Terry was dismissed by referee Mark Halsey for serious foul play in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Manchester City and was set for a three-game ban until the FA overturned the decision.
Chelsea’s success in overturning the red card means Terry will be available for Sunday’s clash versus United at Stamford Bridge.
United boss Ferguson has expressed his disappointment at the decision, suggesting the verdict might have been influenced by Keith Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, and not Halsey.
“I understand Hackett told ref Mark Halsey to rescind the card and he wouldn’t. So now he is refereeing in League Two this weekend,” he said.
“I do not understand how this has happened. If it had been a Manchester United player, Hackett would not have done this.
“This is going to have to happen all the time if a referee is considered to have made a mistake.”
Responding to Ferguson’s claim, a spokesman for the Professional Game Match Officials Board insisted Hackett was not involved in the verdict.
“All matters of discipline are an issue for the FA – and them alone,” said a spokesman for the organisation.
Last night the Chelsea coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, said Terry’s exoneration had been unexpected.
“I am surprised but satisfied,” he said. “That would only happen in England. Anywhere else the referee is a god and it’s finished. It’s a surprise, but a positive surprise. The Football Association have their men who understand that the referee is not god. They make mistakes sometimes, like I do and the players do.”