Premier League referees are to be warned against talking to managers after Mark Halsey’s claim he was on texting terms with Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Hertfordshire official retired at the end of last season, the same time as Sir Alex stood down at Manchester United.
Halsey has also confirmed the Mirror’s exclusive from last year that Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel screamed: “I’ll break your legs” at referee Mark Clattenburg on October 28 last year.
It is Halsey’s texting claim , however, that has caused controversy.
He has revealed that while Ferguson was in charge at Old Trafford he asked the Scot to defend fellow ref Mark Clattenburg over claims that Mikel had been called “a monkey” in Chelsea’s defeat to United
Speaking in his book Added Time, Halsey said: “’I took matters in my own hands and rang Sir Alex asking him to speak out.
“He agreed and used his Friday press conference to say he could not conceive of Mark saying such things. It helped the situation a great deal.”
Halsey added: “It took time to gain Sir Alex Ferguson’s respect but in the end we had a very good relationship.”
He broke protocol by directly making contact to a manager but defended his actions by saying in his book: “One thing should be made clear about my relationship with Sir Alex.
"I may have spoken to him a lot and shared texts but he knew when I crossed that white line there were no favours.
“Players and managers would not respect you if you gave decisions based on friendship.”
Halsey’s comments have stunned football fans fearful that relationships between referees and managers could result in influencing results.
A spokesman for the Professional Game and Match Officials Ltd, the body that appoint officials for Premier League games, *reiterated the organisation’s position last night.
He said: “"At the beginning of the season all our referees were reminded of the importance of adhering to the PGMOL protocols.
"This covers a number of issues, including making direct contact with managers and players, which for integrity reasons is prohibited.
"Any new publicity will only heighten awareness of adhering to these important PGMOL guidelines."
Referees contravening the guideline would be subject to disciplinary action if any case against them were proved.