St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus faces hearing over referee comments

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus. Picture: SWPix
St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus. Picture: SWPix

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus has been referred to the Rugby Football League's compliance team after the governing body said it was "saddened" by his outspoken programme notes.

McManus used his column ahead of St Helens' clash with Castleford on Friday to criticise officials, in particular the performance of referee Robert Hicks during last weekend's Challenge Cup final.

Despite being the overwhelming favourites, Saints were beaten 18-4 by Warrington, although they may have opened the scoring at Wembley had Hicks chosen to refer an early claim for a try to the video referee.

As it was, he opted not to review Morgan Knowles' effort - a decision McManus called "incomprehensible".

Prior to the final, Hicks and Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick met with a Warrington fan who had issued death threats to Hicks and his family via social media earlier in the season.

McManus referred to this as a "publicity stunt" and said referees should not be allowed to use "the open sewer that is Twitter".

He went on to say that Hicks and Warrington's meeting to iron out the threats "destroyed the perception of impartiality" ahead of the final.

The RFL said that McManus' words were a "serious misreading of the situation" and that it was "saddened by the content" of the programme notes.

"Match officials are at the centre of our sport, at all levels. Everyone in the sport appreciates that they are vital. Our match officials are hard-working, impartial, and deserving of respect and support. Theirs is a difficult job and without them there is no sport," a statement added.