Referee Alan Wiley
, whom Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson
accused of not being fit enough after Man U's 2-2 tie with
Sunderland, ran 225 yards more than the average player and a total of 6.9 miles - the eighth most of all on the field. Ferguson, whom the English FA could charge with improper conduct for his
comments, has issued an apology, which the head of the referees' union called "half-hearted."
After the game, Ferguson accused Wiley of not adding more stoppage time because he was
tired and said, "He was not fit. It's an indictment of the game. You see referees from abroad who are as fit as butchers' dogs. There are some good referees in the country who are fit, but he wasn't
fit ... it's ridiculous."
, the head of referees' union, said Ferguson should be suspended and that, "I think it's a half-hearted apology at best really,
and it probably exacerbates the position, rather than resolving it.
"He clearly hasn't retracted the statement about Alan being unfit so it's not an apology for the main offense caused --
and then he widens it to question the fitness of other referees, so he seems to be opening another can of worms which I don't think is very helpful at all."
In a statement on Man United's
web site, Ferguson said: "My only intention in speaking publicly was to highlight what I believe to be a serious issue in the game, namely that the fitness levels of referees must match the
ever-increasing demands of the modern game, which I hope will now be properly addressed through the appropriate formal channels."