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Ferguson hits out at Hackett

Referees chief Keith Hackett is cleared of any responsibility for the decision to overrule John Terry's red card at Manchester City.

Chelsea's John Terry argues with referee Mark Halsey after being sent off - a decision that has now been changes.
Chelsea's John Terry argues with referee Mark Halsey after being sent off - a decision that has now been changes.

LONDON // Referees chief Keith Hackett has been cleared of any responsibility for the decision to overrule John Terry's red card at Manchester City on Saturday. Sir Alex Ferguson accused Hackett of being behind the move, which frees the Chelsea skipper to play against the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Ferguson, who has been involved in angry exchanges with Hackett before, believes the general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board personally stepped in to get Terry off the hook after referee Mark Halsey refused to overturn his original decision to send off the England captain.

Halsey had dismissed Terry for serious foul play after he had grabbed City striker Jo in Chelsea's 3-1 win, but an independent FA regulatory commission overturned the decision. However, the PGMO insist Hackett was not involved in any about-turn at all. "All matters of discipline are an issue for the FA - and them alone," said a spokesman for the organisation. Indeed, Ferguson could now find himself in trouble with the Football Association after his strong criticism of the decision.

Having already seen his cental defencder Nemanja Vidic suspended following his sending off for two bookable offences at Liverpool last Saturday, the United manager at least felt Terry's absence would even the situation up for the Premier League encounter. Feguson said "As I understand it Hackett told Mark Halsey to rescind the red card and he wouldn't do it. "I understand Halsey is being made to referee in the second division this weekend. I just don't understand how this could have happened. If it had been Manchester United, Hackett would not have done this.

"In future, if referees are seen to make mistakes then this [demotion] is going to have to happen all the time." Halsey has not commented on the matter and has been informed he will take charge of the Coca-Cola League Two encounter between Chester and Shrewsbury on Sunday. * PA Sport