Coates in spat over refs
It seems as though Peter Coates's private criticism of referees has now become public news.
The Stoke chairman, one of the few club bosses not to seek the limelight, has become embroiled in a row with David Ellery, the former referee.
Both sit on the FA Council and it was during one of their recent meetings about the FA's 'Respect' campaign that Peter Coates expressed his dismay with the unfair treatment that often seems apparent when the smaller Premier League clubs play one of the so-called 'top four' clubs.
According to the Daily Mail, who broke the story, it seems the recent Chelsea match at the Brit, when the referee allowed play to go into the 96th minute when Chelsea managed a late goal, was the tipping point for Coates. He apparently went on to say, tongue in cheek, that he felt the referee wouldn't blow the final whistle until Chelsea had scored - certainly his views echo many a Stoke fan's suspicions.
It was also reported that he went on to question why the players from those teams often felt compelled to surround the referee at the merest opportunity, something that was greatly in evidence in the match against Manchester United at the Brit just a week ago, when Rooney seemed to question every possible decision (or lack of one) with Howard Webb.
Ellery seems to have taken these comments as a personal insult and demanded that Coates retract them, but since this was a private council meeting and he was only expressing his views, Peter seems to have rightly refused.
We all know that refereeing is a thankless task and some decisions are always going to be open to question, but until the football hierarchy get to grips with those things that can be easily sorted - such as fixed time periods (as in Rugby League) and the use of goal line technology that would end the 'did it or didn't it' madness that has marred several League matches in recent years - fans will continue to be aggrieved if they think that there is one rule for their club and another for the opposition.