Glenn Ferguson wants ref meeting after Glentoran edge past Ballymena United
Ballymena United 0 - Glentoran 1
Glenn Ferguson has called for an urgent meeting with referees' chiefs in an effort to address what he sees as an alarming slide in officiating in the Danske Bank Premiership.
The Ballymena United boss, who had just watched his side lose to Glentoran on Saturday, was left fuming at the display of Limavady whistler John Deighan and his team, and feels that something needs to be done to stop a further widening of the gulf between managers and officials.
"We need to sit down and have dialogue with referees and officials and managers because the gap of communication and friendship is widening, there's no doubt about it, because managers are coming out and speaking the truth," said Ferguson.
"Officials don't like it and now we're being punished because sometimes I feel it gets personal because if you speak about an official and he does a game four weeks down the line he's going to still have it on his mind.
"I'm certainly not questioning any of the officials' integrity.
"Let's sit down face to face and get some of the games up where they've made mistakes and see if they'll admit mistakes because that's the problem. We never see any reports, we don't see a referee coming out and saying 'I made a mistake' and apologise for it."
His main gripe came during the second period of a game that United bossed.
Trailing to Ciaran Caldwell's wonderful finish to a flowing 38th minute move, he threw teenage striker Matthew Shevlin into the fray at the start of the half and one of his first involvements was to be flattened from behind by Glentoran captain Stephen McAlorum.
McAlorum had already been booked, albeit harshly when Jim Ervin drove the ball at him from a free-kick, and was probably as surprised as anyone when he didn't see red.
Ferguson certainly did, going apoplectic on the sidelines, and his ire didn't improve with several other debatable decisions going against his side, while he also admitted that his own player, Gavin Taggart, should also have been sent off for a second yellow, although only after a frankly laughable first booking.
It's a shame that after such an entertaining game that all talk from both sets of fans is the standard of officials and Ferguson spoke at length with former whistle-blower Alan Snoddy who was present at the game.
"It wasn't even that it was decisions that he couldn't see or the fourth official or the linesmen couldn't see, the bottom line is Stephen McAlorum has tackled from behind and taken a player out, which in some occasions is a straight red by the letter of the law," explained Ferguson. "I don't want to see players getting sent off but it's at least a yellow and he'd already been booked earlier to that would be a second yellow.
"I would like someone to interview the referee after the game, instead of managers being punished for speaking the truth. Interview the referee on TV or press and ask him how he thought his performance was because they don't talk to you during the game and they won't talk to you after it.
"The managers used to go and talk to referees, which was before my time, but I'm led to believe that referees felt intimidated because there were too many managers.
"At the start of last season, myself, David Jeffrey, Gary Hamilton and Whitey Anderson were invited to the referees' meeting, which resulted in 50 referees and only myself and Davy, so if there's any intimidation I think we were slightly out-numbered."
For his part, McAlorum, who apart from that tackle hardly put a foot wrong in a win that makes it six matches unbeaten for the managerless Glens, admitted that he could have gone.
"To be honest, I went to block the ball but I thought my first booking was pretty harsh," he said.
"I had my back to the ball and was walking away when Jim Ervin hit the ball at me. In football it levels itself off, I shouldn't have been booked, but on another day I could have been sent off."
Ballymena: Nelson, Ervin, Ruddy (Magennis 81), Rodger, McVey, T Kane, Faulkner (Thompson 64), Taggart, Millar (Shevlin 45), Jenkins, Cushley. Unused subs: McBride, Gawley.
Glentoran: Morris, Gordon, M. Kane, Holland, Garrett, Caldwell (Smith 67), McAlorum, Addis (Henderson 45), O'Hanlon (Gibson 72), Allen, McCullough.Unused subs: Fearon, Hogg.
Man of the match: Stephen McAlorum
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: John Deighan (Limavady)