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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Red card leads to libel threat
Red card
The player is demanding an apology from the referee
A football referee is facing libel action if he does not apologise to a player he sent off in a local match.

Alan Purnell from Bristol says he has not heard of a similar incident in 32 years as a referee.

Mr Purnell says he was was amazed to receive a solicitor's letter sent on behalf of a player he dismissed in a Sunday league game earlier this year.

The player alleges Mr Purnell libelled him in his match report to the Gloucestershire Football Association following a game in May.


I've been a referee for 32 years and I've been threatened before, but I've never known anything like this

Alan Purnell, referee
According to Mr Purnell he was about to show the red card for abusive behaviour, when the player walked off himself and continued to abuse him from the sidelines.

In the letter the player denies swearing at the referee and says the suggestion in the official match report that he did swear, constitutes a libel.

Mr Purnell says the letter demands he apologise or face legal action.

"I've been a referee for 32 years and I've been threatened before, but I've never known anything like this," said Mr Purnell.

"I could not believe it when I got the letter. It's just amazing.

"I just can't see it going any further."

The solicitor acting for the player declined to comment.

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