Alan Wiley could yet sue Sir Alex Ferguson for defamation after the referee union revealed it would discuss possible legal action against the Manchester United manager following comments that earned him a two-match touchline ban.
The FA this week handed Ferguson his ban, plus two further matches suspended and a £20,000 fine for saying Wiley "just wasn't fit enough" to take charge of United's 2-2 draw with Sunderland last month.
Alan Leighton, national secretary for referees' union Prospect, said: "One of the things we are saying is, is there a case these comments are defamatory? I intend to talk to Alan Wiley to see if he wants to sue on the issue.
"We need to take a few steps back and see what has happened here and I would like to see more about the judgement. We never wanted to get lawyers involved in but if referees don't feel they are being protected by the regulatory bodies and someone says something defamatory sooner or later someone is going to take action over it.
"We are going to talk to the relevant authorities to see what it means for the future. I'll also talk to our members. I think there will be a concern this isn't an appropriate way to send a message that these comments were wholly unacceptable.''
Ferguson's ban means he will miss matches at home to Everton and away at Portsmouth.