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Referee row sees Halsey accused of training in Bolton kit, having squad number

Matthew Lewis

Many football fans, especially Bolton Wanderers fans, will recognize former Premier League referee Mark Halsey. The Bolton-based official had spent the better part of 14 years taking charge of matches in England's top flight before retiring at the end of the 2012/13 campaign. The referee was born in Hertfordshire but would relocate to the North, spending much of his life in Bolton. Following his retirement, he wrote a tell-all book on what referees had to deal with in their profession.

In the book, Halsey pointed the finger at a number of other referees, saying that many were unfit to do the job. The accusations in the book were not taken kindly by Graham Poll, another ex-Premier League referee who had also spent some 14 years in the top flight alongside Halsey. In response to what Halsey wrote, Poll went on the offensive, saying that he felt betrayed by Halsey, among other things. In an interview with talkSPORT, Poll said:

"He is 100 per cent betraying what paid him a living, which he would never have earned as the warehouse manager he was or the taxi driver he was.

"The refereeing fraternity is absolutely appalled at what he is doing. He hasn't thought it through.

"I think it is absolutely appalling. Mark has got to take a long, hard look at himself. He won't. I know the guy. I have known him for years. He is that type of character, I'm afraid.

"I would never buy the book and I hope lots of people don't as well."

Perhaps the most interesting part though is the accusation of misconduct by Poll. According to Poll, Halsey used to train with Bolton Wanderers to stay fit until the Professional Game Match Officials organization banned referees from doing so. Despite that, Halsey would apparently still wear his Bolton kit against the organization's ruling.

"The sensible thing would be to ignore him. It is what people did at the referees' camp for a long time when he used to turn up with his Bolton kit to train rather than the kit that we all had on.

"He had a squad number at Bolton and we were told what to wear to train as a group and he ignored that and was on his own. Maybe he is getting back at people."

It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this or if it is anything more than a spat between a pair of ex-professionals. To read more about the situation, the Independent has fully transcribed the quotes here.