Wenger wants secret ref ballot

Published May. 14, 2011 1:24 p.m. ET

Arsene Wenger believes it would be better if the Premier League decided its matchday referees through a secret ballot 48 hours before kick-off.

Wenger cannot believe Sir Alex Ferguson has been charged for saying Howard Webb was "the right man for the job" ahead of Manchester United's key clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford last weekend.

Having just served a five-match touchline man, Ferguson must now decide whether to contest his latest disciplinary case by 4pm on Monday.

A fine seems the more likely outcome this time.

Wenger is bemused. But he does feel another method should be used for choosing officials.

"I don't like comments about the referee before a game. Afterwards I can understand that a manager should have a bit of freedom to express his opinions because the frustration is sometimes so big," said the Arsenal boss.

"But you have to give the referee every chance to go into a game with a clear head and without pressure.


"I believe that you should not know the name of the referee before the game anyway. It should be a draw 48 hours before and nobody should know who is refereeing what game.

"That would keep everybody away from problems before a game."

It is not Ferguson's words that have landed him in bother this time, more the fact he has said them at all.

The FA's decision to release the charge an hour after Ferguson's pre-match press conference ahead of a trip to Blackburn, which is expected to bring his 12th Premier League title, added an element of conspiracy to the proceedings.

But, the fundamental point is that Ferguson ignored a demand put in place prior to the start of last season and reinforced in written form less than seven months ago.

"Pre-match comments concerning the appointed match officials for a particular fixture, whether the official is identifiable by name or by implication, are deemed by the FA to amount to improper conduct, in breach of FA Rule E3," said the letter.

"We wish to make it clear any breach of the rule will result in respect of pre-match media comments will result in a formal disciplinary charge."

United have refused to comment, whilst Wenger had a bit of fun at his old adversary's expense before turning serious.

"It was a shock to the FA," laughed Wenger. "They are not used for him to be complimentary.

"He is entitled to have that opinion. To me, it doesn't look to be a major problem to say that somebody is good. I would not charge him for that."