Mark Halsey has denied his much criticised relationships with Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson compromised his position when he refereed games featuring Chelsea and Manchester United.
The 52-year-old, who retired at the end of last season after 14 years of service in the Premier League, has come under the spotlight after details of his off-field friendships were released in excerpts of his book.
Halsey explains how he enjoyed friendships with Chelsea boss Mourinho and also Ferguson during his time in charge at Old Trafford, which has led to condemnation given his esteemed role as a match official.
The former ref struck up a particular bond with Mourinho after being diagnosed with cancer which led Halsey to take a year out of the game to receive treatment, before returning to officiate in the top-flight.
But, when asked by talkSPORT if his closeness to Mourinho and Ferguson jeopardised his impartiality when tasked with refereeing Chelsea and Manchester United, Halsey was emphatic in his response.
“Not one bit. Jose Mourinho and myself became close friends, but that was only after he left Chelsea," he explained.
“We spoke a few times before games and we hit it off, but we didn’t really get close until he left Chelsea, when my wife got ill and then I got ill.
“Since then we got closer and closer, he supported me through my illness, through thick and thin, and he supported me by donating money to my charities.
“He was never in England while this happened and he asked me for nothing whatsoever. He knows what he’d get from me if he did.
“And it’s the same with Sir Alex. I’ve refereed Sir Alex over the years and he’s criticised me over some of my performances, and he’s within his right to criticise me.
“But that’s on the football pitch, and as soon as we’re off the pitch it’s different.”