Fitzpatrick hits out at McManus

Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick says the comments made by Eamonn McManus about Robert Hicks were “very disappointing.”

The St Helens chairman questioned Hicks’ Challenge Cup final performance in his programme notes last week following their 18-4 loss to the Wolves at Wembley.

He was critical of Hicks appointment for the final after the referee received well-publicised death threats from a Warrington fan.

The issue was resolved when Wire CEO Fitzpatrick met with Hicks and the supporter in question, the official then appeared on ITV’s Granada Reports to explain the story just days before Wembley.

However, McManus said the “publicity stunt” and “pathetic spat” had “destroyed the perception of officiating impartiality” ahead of the game.

He then went on to criticise Hicks performance in the final, labelling his decision not to award Morgan Knowles potential early try as “incomprehensible” before several other “highly questionable decisions.”

Fitzpatrick told the Warrington Guardian that the meeting with Hicks and the supporter took place before the Challenge Cup semi-final against Hull FC.

When asked about the Saints chairman’s comments, Fitzpatrick said that McManus was “discrediting” the issue of online abuse against referees.

He added: “When you have club chairman questioning them in such a public way, it really is disappointing.

“They have a difficult enough job and without the officials we would not have a game.

“He probably made a mistake at the start but I thought he had a great game after that, you almost didn’t notice him.

“He was also fantastic in the semi-final and that is probably why he got the job for the final.

“As a sport I think we do give so much focus to referees and not on the players as it should be.”