Referee Mark Halsey denied FA Cup Final chance 'because his face did not fit'
FORMER Premier League official Mark Halsey was denied his chance to referee the FA Cup final "because his face did not fit".
The Bolton-based former official said the FA of overlooked him for the honour of refereeing the FA Cup final, missing the chance to inspire thousands of cancer patients in the process.
He also said refereeing chiefs told him he was unwanted just months after he had finished his cancer treatment, with neither the Premier League or FA sending him any messages of good luck when he quit football in May.
His hard-hitting book, Added Time, is set to go on sale in bookshops and on Amazon later this week.
Mr Halsey said writing the book cost him a £50,000 pay-off, as a confidentiality clause was inserted into his redundancy package when he left football.
He then refused the money as he wanted people to know what referees have to deal with.
“If your face does not fit with the powers that be at the FA then you’ve got no chance,” said Mr Halsey.
“My face does not fit because I speak my mind and I won’t be bullied.
“To get through my whole career without refereeing an FA Cup final was hugely disappointing to me, and former colleagues have said it was a disgrace.
“What a great opportunity for the FA to show the men, women and children living with cancer what can be achieved, with an ex-patient stepping out at Wembley.
“The FA could not bring themselves to give me that accolade.”
Mr Halsey also had strong opinions regarding his departure from football.
He added: “I was treated with huge disrespect. None of the Premier League, FA or Football League sent me a thing when I left, even though many players and managers did so, as well as a lovely letter I got from Gordon Taylor.
“I was told before I came back from cancer treatment that I was too old and they wanted to bring through younger referees.”
Under new rules brought in the last few years, referees are restricted as to whom they are allowed to talk.
“Under the new system you can’t speak to the press, make friends with players or staff, it’s ridiculous,” added Mr Halsey.
“I have great friends in football because you have such banter with people.
“I was even told not to speak to my former colleagues now I work with BT Sport as it’s in journalism, which is stupid as I’m there to offer a defence to referees.”
Mr Halsey also refers to terrifying threats made against him and his family through his refereeing, which he said Facebook and Twitter must do more to tackle.
“They will not give addresses to the police which is wrong as it protects people writing vicious things,” he said.
“Both of them should have more of a duty of care to people.”
“He’s a terrific guy and when he saw me he said if I score today I’ll celebrate with you and, lo and behold, he ran across the pitch when he did to wave at me,” said Mr Halsey.
“I visited him when he was fighting his own battles [after his heart stopped following a cardiac arrest last year] and it was a miracle that he pulled through.”
Mr Halsey’s wife Michelle is currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia, which is “treatable but not curable” according to the former official.
Added Time’s co-writer, sports journalist Ian Ridley, approached Mr Halsey with the idea as the pair share the experience of dealing with cancer. Mr Ridley was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009.
On leaving the sport, Mr Halsey added: “Since I’ve left, lots of referees have said they are envious of me that I’m out of it, which I think is quite sad really.
“At the end of the day, when I put my head on the pillow at night I can sleep soundly knowing I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m not sure other people can do the same.”
Both the Premier League and the FA declined to comment.
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