ferguson sees red

LONDON - Referees' boss Keith Hackett has been defended after Sir Alex Ferguson blamed him for the decision to rescind Chelsea captain John Terry's red card at Manchester City on Saturday.

The move means England central defender Terry is now free to face Manchester United manager Ferguson's English champions in the Premier League this weekend.

Ferguson said on Tuesday that Hackett, general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMO) had personally intervened to get Terry's mandatory three-game ban overturned after match referee Mark Halsey had refused to change his original decision.

But a PGMO spokesman said yesterday: "All matters of discipline are an issue for the FA - and them alone."

Ferguson thought his side, who beat Chelsea in last season's Champions League final, and the Blues would both be without a first-choice player at Stamford Bridge on Sunday after Nemanja Vidic was sent off in the Red Devils' defeat away to Liverpool.

The Scot was clearly angered on Tuesday, when Terry's red card was overturned, saying: "Hackett told Halsey to rescind the red card but he would not do it.

"If it had been a Manchester United player Hackett would not have done this," he added.

In what appears to be a demotion Halsey, who has not made any public comment on the incident, won't be refereeing a Premier League match this weekend and instead will take charge of the fourth tier clash between Chester and Shrewsbury on Sunday. - Sapa-AFP