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Fergie: No one disrespects refs

Sir Alex Ferguson has rubbished the Premier League's new crackdown on referee criticism, claiming it is "not an issue" despite being in the middle of a five-match ban for just that.

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Manchester United boss Ferguson criticised Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore's role in the plan, saying he has not thought about it, while insisting there is no disrespect of referees from club managers.

Scudamore this week announced a new campaign, backed by the top-flight clubs, targeting "unacceptable'' criticism of and behaviour towards referees by players and managers.

Ferguson, who picked up a five-match touchline ban last month for his comments about referee Martin Atkinson, said: "Richard Scudamore doesn't have a lot to do. He is trying to elevate the Premier League. That is good. That is his job. But I feel he is jumping off a high diving board here without thinking about it.

"It is not an issue for me. I don't think managers disrespect referees. I got done for what I considered a fair comment. They gave me a five-match ban. That's fine. That doesn't mean I don't respect referees. It is a difficult job. We all know that. I wouldn't referee a game. We do need them.''

Scudamore, due to give evidence to the Parliamentary inquiry into football governance on Tuesday, announced the new measures following a meeting of chairmen on Thursday. Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle gave qualified backing, warning there must be no grey areas in the new rules.

He said: "As long as the guidelines are clear we will support them. They need to make sure there are no grey areas so that referees can apply them consistently and players know where they stand.''

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said football should follow the example set in rugby, where only the captain is allowed to approach the referee.

Wenger said: "The managers are always under pressure and sometimes we get a little bit too far, but many times it's just after the game in moments when it is very difficult for any manager to keep the right distance with what happened on the pitch. We can be inspired by what happens in rugby, for example, but sometimes the referees get too close to the players as well and they have to keep the right distance with the players.''

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has called for a "cooling-off period'' directly after the match in order to give managers time to collect their thoughts, rather than be immediately exposed to television interviews.

"You get a microphone shoved in front of you after ten minutes of the game finishing and sometimes feelings are running high,'' he said. "You say things on the spur of the moment, and it's not easy. There should be a cooling-off period and maybe a chance to speak to the referee after the game about the decisions he has made before you go on the TV.''

He did stress, however, that the sight of players harassing officials repulses him.

Redknapp added: "Players want to question decisions but they should be kept away. You get nothing out of chasing referees. It's very rare that they change the decisions so chasing and harassing referees is not a lot of use to anybody and it shouldn't happen. It's not an easy job, so you have to give them all the respect in the world. They do an honest job and sometimes they make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.''

The Football Association chairman David Bernstein was present at the meeting of top-flight chairmen on Thursday and said this was support for his organisation's Respect campaign.

Bernstein said: "I'm delighted that the Premier League has pledged its renewed support to contribute to the Respect agenda. I made it clear, from the first day of my appointment, that Respect is one of my key priorities as FA chairman and, having been present at yesterday's Premier League shareholders' meeting, I was encouraged to witness strong support on this matter.

"We need more and better role models for young people throughout the game and it is clear that any examples of unacceptable behaviour towards referees can have an influence on the wider football world.''

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