Belfast Telegraph

Halsey warns of ref suicide threat

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey believes the pressure on top-flight officials could lead to one of them committing suicide.

Referees are under coming increasing scrutiny as a result of greater media focus as well as social media outlets, such as Twitter.

And Halsey, who retired from officiating at the end of the last Barclays Premier League season, believes more needs to be done to support his former colleagues.

"There is no hiding place on the field and you have to be mentally tough. But it also follows you off the field more and more now and it can destroy you," Halsey said in his autobiography which is being serialised in The Sun.

"I do feel that referees should get more help to cope with the increasing level of mental strain.

"In my view, given some of the episodes of recent seasons, it will not be long before a referee has a nervous breakdown.

"I also believe that if we do not do something to help referees with mental health and stress issues, then we could see a suicide."

Halsey was the victim of two abusive tweets 12 months ago after officiating in Manchester United's 2-1 victory over Liverpool, sending off Reds midfielder Jonjo Shelvey before awarding United a penalty, which was scored by Robin van Persie.

The tweets, both of which referred to his throat cancer diagnosis in 2009, were widely condemned by other Twitter users and while Halsey received support from Premier League managers and friends, his former bosses were a lot less forthcoming.

He said: "I got little from my bosses apart from a call from Mike Riley, the head of the PGMOL, and one from the Select Group manager Keren Barratt asking if I wanted to come off my next game at Southampton."

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