ANTON RIPPON reports on a new sporting social network that has delivered a telling interview
It is true then – Sir Alex Ferguson did ask for preferential treatment from referees.
At least that is what former FA Cup final and European Championship whistler Dermot Gallagher told the YouTube-based sports chat show Sportlobster TV.
Sportlobster TV is a new sport social network with features including news, live scores, blogs, predictions and a sporting event calendar.
It’s Gallagher interview is one to give it some immediate notoriety.
Gallagher recalled an incident in May 1997 when Manchester United, on their way the Premier League title, met Middlesbrough at Old Trafford.
“United had three games that week and I was given the game on the Bank Holiday Monday. It was chucking it down with rain and Fergie pulled me aside and said: ‘Do me a favour, call the game off’.
“I asked why and he said: ‘There’s nowhere else to fit this game in and the Premier League will have to extend the season. We’ll have a better chance of winning the match and we’ll win the League at Old Trafford.’
“At half time United were losing 3-1 and the pitch was like a swimming pool. As we came off, he said: ‘I know we’re 3-1 down but please call it off, we could do with a hand here.’
“They managed to pull it back to 3-3 and in the last minute Dennis Irwin ran into the box and went down in front of the Stretford End and I only gave a goal-kick.
“At full time Fergie sprinted across the pitch and shouted at me furiously. My wife said: ‘Fergie had a right go at you about that penalty didn’t he?’ I told her he hadn’t mentioned the penalty. She asked why he came tearing across the pitch at me then. The truth is he ran over and asked me if I was going out to dinner that night. I said ‘No’, and he asked: ‘Why are we leaving so early then?’”
According to Gallagher, the Old Trafford crowd is equally responsible for influencing key refereeing decisions: “Years and years ago one of the referees had a heart monitor on during a match at Old Trafford. They were assessing it and suddenly it jumped and went through the roof. They looked at the DVD and he’d just turned down a penalty in front of the Stretford End. The pressure is immense.
“However, I refereed 50 matches at Old Trafford and only gave one penalty, which was to the opposition.”
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