DONCASTER Rovers manager Darren Ferguson could be in trouble with the football authorities, despite apologising for his scathing attack on referees.
Ferguson described the standard of refereeing in League One as “appalling” following their draw with Plymouth. He claimed a “blatant penalty” was not awarded by referee Andy Haines in the dying seconds of the game.
Asked what he would like the Football Association to do, he said: “Shoot them. It’s the most blatant penalty you’ll ever see, there’s nothing to think about.
“It’s the clearest penalty you’ll see all season. The referees are part-time and the standard is appalling, their fitness levels are a disgrace, I’ve had enough of it.
“What can I do? Shoot them, it would be a good idea. I have to shut my mouth and I have to make sure I’m being respectful, but when they’re laughing at the end of the game saying ‘it’s my opinion and that’s what counts’, I think we’ve seen enough now.”
On Sunday morning, Ferguson apologised in a statement issued by the club, saying: “When asked after the game what I personally could do to raise standards, I said: ‘What can I do? Shoot them?’
“Although clear to everyone in the room that my comment was a tongue-in-cheek response, it is worth clarifying my comments were borne out of frustration and I absolutely do not advocate violence against officials.
“I am sorry for that comment and regret the wording, but as was clear from my post-match comments I felt the referee got some decisions wrong at key moments in the game.
“Referees have a tough job and I have a lot of respect for the challenges they face, but I would like to see more done to raise standards across the board and give them the best chance of getting decisions right.”
The EFL responded with a statement of their own, saying they had passed the post-match comments onto the Football Association and had noted Ferguson’s later clarification.
The statement read: “The EFL has noted the comments made by Darren Ferguson following his side’s draw with Plymouth Argyle on Saturday 13 January and his post-match remarks have been passed by PGMOL to the FA for their consideration. We further note the clarification issued by Mr Ferguson on Sunday morning.
“Managers and officials at EFL Clubs are given guidance each season so that they are fully aware of their responsibilities in regard to commenting on match officials and their performance.”
Doncaster took a 37th-minute lead through Alfie Beestin before Ryan Edwards’s second-half equaliser for Plymouth.
Ferguson was unhappy that Argyle’s goal was allowed to stand, and further incensed by the penalty decision.
Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor, Blair, Baudry, Butler, Mason, Houghton, Kongolo (Whiteman 65), Rowe, Coppinger, Beestin (May 65), Marquis. Unused substitutes: Marosi, Mandeville, Wright, Garrett, Ben Khemis.
Plymouth Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Edwards, Bradley, Sawyer, Ness, Fox, Sarcevic, Lameiras (Ainsworth 71), Taylor, Carey. Unused substitutes: Miller, Songo’o, Jervis, Grant, Wylde, Cooper.
Referee: A Haines (Tyne & Wear).