Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was expected to appear before a Football Association disciplinary panel today following his comments that Alan Wiley was not fit enough to referee in the Barclays Premier League.
Ferguson was charged by the FA following his comment that Wiley "just wasn't fit enough" to referee following United's 2-2 draw with Sunderland on October 3.
The 67-year-old has since apologised to Wiley for the personal nature of his comments, and will be hoping to avoid a sanction that could see him handed a touchline ban.
Ferguson issued his apology on United's website in the wake of strong opinion his comments had served to undermine the FA's 'Respect' campaign, although the Scot maintained his assertion that the fitness of referees in the Premier League remained an issue to be discussed.
"I apologise to Mr Wiley for any personal embarrassment that my remarks may have caused and to the FA for going public with my views," Ferguson said at the time.
"My only intention in speaking publicly was to highlight what I believe to be a serious and important 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."
Whether Ferguson's willingness to bring the issue of referee fitness into focus will help him avoid a sanction remains to be seen, but certainly he has remained outspoken about the standard of the match officials since his outburst at Wiley.
Following his side's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool last month, Ferguson questioned whether Andre Marriner, who took charge of the game at Anfield, had the required experience for a match of such significance.
He also accused Martin Atkinson of being in an "absolutely ridiculous" position when he awarded Chelsea the free-kick that led to their winner against United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
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