FORMER Premier League referee Mark Halsey’s hard-hitting autobiography has been shortlisted for a top award.

Added Time, the story of the Bolton-based official’s battle with cancer and his acrimonious departure from football, beat former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography to be shortlisted by The British Sports Book Awards.

Mr Halsey said the book cost him a £50,000 payoff when he left refereeing, as a confidentiality clause was inserted into his severance agreement.

Sports journalist Ian Ridley, Added Time’s ghost writer, said that because of costly legal advice, Mr Halsey is worse off than if he had taken the pay-off, despite the book’s strong sales.

Mr Ridley said the pair published the book independently and claimed a publisher pulled out because of pressure from the Premier League.

The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, which provides referees for Premier League fixtures, denied this.

A spokesman said: “No threat of legal action was made to any individual or to Headline Publishing by either the PGMOL or the Premier League.”

Mr Ridley said: “I was very gratified and delighted that the book sold well. Mark refused a payout to shut up and not publish. This is a reward for him being brave.”

Added Time was in an eight-book shortlist in the autobiography/biography category that includes books from Dutch football star Dennis Bergkamp and cricketer Andrew Strauss.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground on May 21.

Mr Halsey said: “I’m over the moon that it’s beaten Sir Alex Ferguson’s book. Ian has done a great job as ghost writer.”

Mr Ridley shares Mr Halsey’s experiences in battling cancer, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009.