Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane is to become the highest profile ex-player to take up refereeing, Football Association papers have revealed. Keane, who has taken several refereeing examinations since being sacked by Ipswich in January, could even be fast tracked into the Premier League in time for the 2011/12 season, according the documents seen by United Rant.
Keane’s promotion is part of the FA’s increasingly hardline stance on the organisation’s ‘Respect’ campaign, underlined by the five-match touchline ban handed to Sir Alex Ferguson last month. The United manager will sit out Saturday’s trip to West Ham United and three further matches, including the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley.
Keane’s extraordinary appointment opens up the possibility that the 39-year-old former player could even take charge of fixtures involving United next season. Rant understands that there will be no special restrictions in the Irishman’s officiating role.
In papers seen by Rant this week, Keane’s refereeing performances in the Suffolk and County League since January (pictured, above) are described as “among the best seen” by a rookie official. Occupying the eighth rung on the non-League football pyramid, the Sussex League has enabled Keane to remain at his family home in Woodbridge, Suffolk, while training.
“Keane demonstrates a gravitas rarely seen [in a match official] … as a former player he commands the pitch with authority and it is obvious that players respect his decisions,” continues the report. “Keane’s understanding of the game is first-rate.”
In the papers Keane scores highly on decision-making and discipline, although the former player is criticised for a “cavalier attitude” towards issuing cautions.
Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the body which represents officials in England’s top league, is yet to officially comment but in an off-the-record briefing sources at PGMOL told Rant that refereeing peers are firmly behind Keane’s rapid elevation. PGMOL believes that a high-profile ex-player will initiate a trickle down effect of respect for referees in the professional game.
Keane’s remarkable promotion to officialdom is the latest twist in the Irishman’s colourful career. Starting at Cobh Ramblers in 1989, Keane then played for Nottingham Forrest before making a British record-breaking £3.75 million move to United in 1992. Keane saw out a stormy career, which included eight red cards, at Celtic before retiring on medical advice in July 2006.
As a manager Keane enjoyed two successful seasons with Sunderland, including promotion from the Championship in 2007 before taking over at Ipswich in April 2009. His dismissal by Portman Road owner Marcus Evans brought an end to 18 turbulent months in Suffolk.
And Keane’s agent says that the Irishman is approaching his new career with the same intensity as playing and management.
“Roy is a dedicated profession and he will undertake refereeing duties every bit as seriously as he played and managed,” Olaf Priol told Rant.
“He is absolutely serious about this. He understands he’ll get some stick from former pros, those he played with and against, but Roy knows that refereeing is broken in England and he thinks he can fix it.
“Roy was a hard pro and he’s a hard ref but in these days of diving and harassing officials, players and managers will draw the line with him on the pitch. This is the best thing that has happened to refereeing since the invention of the whistle.”
Keane is not the first player to turn official. Newton Heath (later United) players Sam Black and Herbert Dale became referees in the 1880s. Meanwhile, Bradford City and Chesterfield player Steve Baines became an official after retiring in the late 1980s. By 1994 Baines was an Assistant Referee in the Football League, and full official by 1995.
Former manager Ferguson could not be reached for comment as Rant went to press.
Carlos Tevez today confirmed what many have long suspected. For all the money currently washing through Manchester City, once bitterness is tasted, even the best paid just can’t wait to get out.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Ilker Casillas knows something about ‘keeping. Alongside Petr Cech, Edwin van der Sar and Gianluigi Buffon, Casillas has arguably been the world’s finest over the past decade. Casillas now believes Manchester City’s Joe Hart is ready to take over the mantle – if he makes the crosstown switch to United first!
“Teams like Manchester United and AC Milan have ageing keepers and Joe would be perfect for either of them,” said Casillas.
“If I am being honest, over the last five years I don’t think there has been a keeper close to Gigi Buffon, or myself. But from what I have seen of Joe Hart, he really can be great.
“When Buffon and I are well into our 30s Joe will be at his peak and I expect him to be the number one keeper in the world. Everything he does is so natural and he has that goalkeeper’s instinct, which you can’t just learn.
“But like so many of City’s players, Hart needs to play Champions League football. If he doesn’t get it, he won’t stay. I think it’s fine if you want to go and be part of the revolution at City. But I would suggest all players write clauses into their contract about being able to leave the club if they don’t make it into the Champions League.”
Not that Hart would be the first City play to want out. To date Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz, Robinho (now departed), Steven Ireland (also departed), Emmanuel Adebayor, and even new signing Mario Ballotelli have professed a wish to play their football elsewhere.
Who can blame them?
Just in case there is any doubt about Manchester City’s massive ambitions – after spending close to £300 million in two seasons for a Carling Cup semi final – the club has confirmed it still boasts both the widest pitch and tallest floodlights in the land.
The massive news, confirmed through crowd sourcing encyclopaedia Wikipedia, comes as a relief to City fans, thought to be concerned that the 2003 move to Eastlands from Maine Road had diminished the club’s massive status.
Talksport’s Stan Collymore, the former Nottingham Forest and Liverpool striker, has created a post-career reputation as a modern day ‘shock jock’ whose outspoken opinions influence the 1.7 per cent of radio listeners that tune into the station each week. Hardly new but this week the wife-beating dogger labelled Ryan Giggs a cheat.
Following Manchester United’s 3-0 victory over West Ham United on Saturday, in which Jonathan Spector clearly fouled Giggs for the penalty that enabled Wayne Rooney to break a 13 game goalscoring drought, Collymore made the accusation on his Talksport show.
During the match the Welshman cut inside former United player Spector, who dives in and takes the legs of the 36-year-old winger. Referee Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation in awarding the spot kick.
However Collymore disagreed with the referee, accusing Giggs of simulation.
“It’s [the Spector challenge] brushing somebody, now to brush somebody is one thing. To knock somebody over in mid-flow and therefore cause an infringement is another.
“If there’s a Manchester United fan who can honestly tell me that Ryan Giggs was impeded, and impeded sufficiently to knock him out of his stride…?” asked Collymore on his Saturday evening show.
“It wasn’t a penalty, I’m telling you [the challenge] didn’t [knock Giggs over], it wasn’t a penalty.”
“If we keep giving these soft penalties, players are going to keep doing it [diving], it becomes a snowball effect. It makes it more difficult on referees.
“Until [managers tell] players in the dressing rooms, ‘try and stay on your feet’, which they did in my day or ‘we’re going to punish you if you simulate’ [then] we’re going to keep slaughtering referees.
“For me [Giggs] went down too easily.”
Collymore, who repeatedly said throughout the show that Giggs deliberately fell to win the penalty, then goes on to praise a caller who claimed he always stayed on his feet when challenged.
“Good on you lad,” says Collymore
“I want to see you play for Manchester United, not Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs.”
Aside from being patently untrue, Collymore’s accusation that Giggs cheated smacks of the bitterness the 39-year-old still feels over the mooted 1995 transfer from Forest to United. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson rejected the wife-beating sexual pervert in favour of Andy Cole, who went on to score 121 goals in 195 games for United.
The saying ‘those in glass houses…’ comes to mind, with Collymore admitting that he beat his then girlfriend Ulrika Jonnson during the 1998 World Cup in France. Perhaps Stan thought that was just good sport?
Later a tabloid newspaper caught Collymore practising the act of ‘dogging’ – performing sexual intercourse in a public area – which is almost certainly illegal indecent exposure under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.
Moreover, the label cheat is one that Collymore has trouble avoiding. The striker, for example, was sent off in 1997 for fighting with Andy Todd as Aston Villa met Bolton Wanderers. Hardly within the laws of the game.
The player frequently courted controversy during a career that never fullfilled its early promise. Indeed, ‘Stan the Man’ walked out on Spanish side Oviedo in 2001, let off a fire extinguisher at Leicester’s luxury La Manga hotel in 2000 from which they were thrown out, and started a fight with Paul Gascoigne during a reserve team fixture between Leicester and Everton the same year.
Perhaps Rant should have been more aware. Later, suggesting that Collymore might not be of the same species as the rest of us, Rant found itself at the centre of the Talksport host’s ire.
“I respect your right to suggest anything you like on football,” Collymore warned Rant.
“But I’d be careful who you call sub human pal. Really careful.”