Sunday, May 28, 2023

PSA chief Gough reported to England Squash after ref row




PSA chief executive Alex Gough (above left) has been reported to England Squash over allegations that he swore and aimed hand gestures at top ref Malcolm Whiteley.

Gough clashed with the official (pictured right) during Tuesday’s Premier Squash League match at Surrey Health as he played for Team Chichester.

On a night of high drama, Gough is accused of calling the Sussex based ref a ‘Fucking Wanker’, proferring an abusive wrist gesture and claiming:”It’s because of people like you that squash didn’t get into the Olympics.'”

Match Referee Co-ordinator Mary Scott Miller has now sent a full report to England Squash, including three witness statements from squash fans who say they saw and heard the incidents. Her report will also record that the 90-strong crowd was made up of a significant amount of children.

Gough, a former world ranked No.5 player, last night denied swearing saying : “He was upset with me speaking to him.I categorically did not swear at him.”


Gough and the official locked horns during his match with Surrey’s Ben Ford (above).

Whiteley last night gave his version of events:”At five all in the first game I called a couple of lets that Mr Gough felt should have been strokes. He obviously wasn’t happy with those decisions.

“He opened the door, stepped out and said “Do you actually know the rules of squash?”. I could and possibly should have given him a conduct stroke but decided to give him the benefit as it was early on in the match.

“In the second game we had similar issues. Ben appeared happy with the decisions but again Mr Gough opened the door put his head out and said

“It’s because of people like you that squash didn’t get into the Olympics.”

“I admit I was extremely angry with that comment, I felt like ripping my shirt off and giving him a slap. But that was a momentary emotion. I have worked hard to become a good referee and calmed myself quickly and ensured the game went ahead.”

Shortly after that flare-up came the alleged incident of swearing and hand gesturing.

Whiteley continued:” Out the corner of my eye I saw Mr Gough put his hand high on the back-wall glass appearing to wipe sweat from his hand. The crowd then erupted and many people told me he called me a “Fucking Wanker” with the appropriate wrist action. They said it was disgusting although I  couldn’t be 100 per cent sure  what was said and done.

“I couldn’t take action if I was not completely sure. Everyone else saw it but I wasn’t totally sure so I had to continue with the game. Maybe he was being clever doing it while I was not looking at him. He knows all the tricks.”

Gough lost the match 3-1 and shook the referee’s hand at the end. “He also repeated that it was people like me who cost us the Olympics, “added Whiteley. “He also said, I’ll talk to you later.”

Whiteley continued:” When I spoke to him he told me I had mis-interpreted his words about costing squash a place in the Olympics. I told him there was no mis-interpretation. He said it as clear as anything. When I confronted him he couldn’t look me in the eye. He just looked at the floor. It told me a lot about him.

“He said he didn’t swear but I told him I had at least three witnesses who said otherwise. He then said he had just come from a meeting with Sky and BT television. He said they would not be showing as much squash on TV because of the amount of lets in squash and that was the point he was trying to get across to me during the match.

“Mr Gough may have had a bad day at the office but I do this job out of the love of the game. I am unpaid, travelled from Sussex and gave up my evening.”

Whiteley then revealed that he had film footage of the incidents. “My wife Julie filmed the match on her phone.,” he added. “It is all captured on there. Mary Scot Miller has already sent a full report, including witness statements, to England Squash”

Mr Gough commented:”I spoke to Malcolm afterwards and asked to see the video/

“I categorically did not swear at him and he wouldn’t show it to me.

“When I came off court I said to him that I’d like to tell him a story of what happened that day at a meeting with BT Sport – I have no idea why he thought I abused him!  When we did speak after the conversation it was not a great one so I am not surprised he is trying to make a meal out of this.”


Surrey Health team manager Pete Smith spoke to confirming that Whiteley was visibly shaken after the confrontation. “It was all very unfortunate and left people quite shocked,” he said. “I don’t really want to comment on what happened. I didn’t hear it myself but I was told by everyone afterwards. This had nothing to do with my players.”

Smith also confirmed there were children courtside in ear-shot of  the incidents. “We had 80 to 90 people in the crowd, including a lot of kids. It was pretty upsetting.”

Other witnesses spoke of their shock at hearing a senior squash executive unload on an official. “Malcolm was stunned by Gough’s outburst, ” said one male squash fan who gave us his name but asked that we not report  it.

“At one point I think Malcolm wanted to stop marking the game but he carried on. His wife Julie was really upset by it. She may have been filming the incident on her mobile phone, I’m not sure.”

Mr Gough added in a later email: Dear Squash Mad, England Squash

I want to be absolutely clear about this:-
·         I did not swear at the referee;
·         I did not make rude hand gestures to the referee;
·         I did not say it was people like him that were responsible for us not getting into the Olympics.
Whilst I didn’t agree with some of the decisions the referee made, I don’t think Ben did either (seeing as he opened the door more than I did).
BT Sport had told me, only that day, that they had a problem with televising squash because there are too many lets, I think they have a point! (No pun intended).  Its an issue that I believe those of us who passionately want squash to have wider appeal ought to address.
Be that as it may; its totally inappropriate for a referee to make false public statements about me.


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Pictured above: Gough (4th right) and the Surrey Health and Team Chichester teams

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  1. Alex should address the problem properly. Instead he is perpetuating it with his disgraceful on court behaviour. IMHO squash would be a much better game if the rules enforced “fair” play. Professional players are just that, professionals and on court to win within the boundaries that they are given. The rules need to stop them from using the referee to achieve this and make them play “squash”. Dressing the game up with fancy courts, video replays etc is avoiding a major factor that has continued to hinder the sports olympic bid. On the other hand if the sport wishes to continue to have the referee as effectively a 3rd player then it needs to invest in a professional referee structure to provide a more equal playing field.

  2. From the Let’s Talk Forum

    This could get messy!

    by Mainser » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:50 am

    IF, and note the caps, this is substantiated then things could get very messy for all involved.

    Not sure we should get into a debate about the specifics, however, the number of direct quotes clearly shows something happened (** story copied below)

    by seshadri » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:30 am

    If nothing else, at least the [alleged] insult is a great example of an oxymoron 😉

    by New York Nick » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:22 pm

    This little story touches on the PSA’s two great shortcomings: too many lets, and unqualified management who are in over their heads. Joe McManus must be grinning ear to ear.
    New York Nick

    by Squash Pharaoh » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:28 pm

    I don’t care how awful the ref might have been (or if he was even bad at all) a top PSA executive should never behave in such a way. If this did in fact happen, it’s absolutely disgraceful. Not setting a good example at all. How does the PSA expect the players to behave on court when they themselves dont?! If he wants to play league matches and behave that way then he should not be running the PSA. Too many conflicts of interest.
    Squash Pharaoh

    by gmandleydixon » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:59 pm

    Can’t help feeling that the conduct of the PSA CEO on Tuesday is likely to do more damage to our Olympic aspirations, than a referee giving a couple of lets.

    by New York Nick » Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:44 pm

    Gough’s reactions afterward are nearly as damning as the alleged behavior on court. Regardless of the details, it’s clear something unpleasant transpired during the match — third parties state that there was a sense of shock in the audience, and the refereeing co-ordinator saw fit to file a report with England Squash. Gough could have tried to defuse the situation with a few conciliatory words, either apologizing (if reports of his behavior are accurate) or at least making some bland statement about things being misinterpreted in the heat of the moment. Instead he disparages the ref for “making a meal of it,” then issues a full-throated denial of any wrongdoing and ends by saying “its totally inappropriate for a referee to make false public statements about me.”

    These are the comments of a frustrated second-tier league player, not pro squash’s chief executive. Gough seems to have no concept of his responsibilities as an ambassador for the sport. There are more significant reasons why squash failed in its Olympic bid, but having an amateur exec running the men’s tour didn’t help the cause. It makes the game seem clubby and provincial.
    New York Nick

    by themanwithaplan » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:14 pm

    New York Nick wrote:
    These are the comments of a frustrated second-tier league player, not pro squash’s chief executive. Gough seems to have no concept of his responsibilities as an ambassador for the sport. There are more significant reasons why squash failed in its Olympic bid, but having an amateur exec running the men’s tour didn’t help the cause. It makes the game seem clubby and provincial.

    Very well written. I completely agree with this.

    by Squash Pharaoh » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:28 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more New York Nick. Gough should issue a public apology immediately and attempt to save face at least.
    Squash Pharaoh

    by Mizukiboy » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:43 pm

    It’s times like this I am glad squash doesn’t have a bigger media profile.

    by seshadri » Sat Nov 09, 2013 4:40 am

    In a situation like this, with Gough flatly denying the most damaging accusations, it is imperative that the match videos are examined to see what really happened.
    While it is natural to empathise with the referee, this incident raises questions about how much control he exerted during the match. Did he apply Rule 17 when needed ? Did he try to explain any decision that the players questioned? Was he consistent in his rulings?

    Apparently the TV channels told Gough that squash is not viewer-friendly because of the large number of Lets. It’s understandable that a layperson from a TV company should say this, but the reality is that Lets are only the obvious symptom of the actual problem, and not the disease itself.
    Unless players and referees are willing to sit down together and address the problem jointly, we will keep on seeing player-ref confrontations. There are faults on both sides, but right now, each party thinks that it is squeaky clean while the other side is in denial.

  3. Very sad. Let’s all wait for the final verdict here. When we have that – let’s dare to start talking about the let-rule. Is there anything we can do to improve the game and make life easier on the players, the refs and the audience and last but not least the sponsors?

  4. ive met that ref several times and wouldn’t be at all suprised if he was blowing it out of proportion. he was always on a power trip at junior events, watched him give a outrageous conduct game once and seen him report players to the tournament organiser totaly undeservedly although it does sound pretty interesting given the crowd reaction…. still would bet my hat its exaggerated though

  5. I saw this match and witnessed the incidents. (Sadly I was with my 10 year old son. Will be rethinking his involvement with this sport!)
    The player in question seems to have no defence other than to blame the referee. Several people witnessed this match so I can’t see how he can deny what went on!
    The player himself knows what happened and what was said. He should be a big enough man to admit he was wrong and at least apologise for his atrocious behaviour.

  6. On the grapevine it appears Mr. Gough is going to get off Scot Free .. Squash will always be seen as private snobbish sport, if it show it’s coming out of the dark ages, and become squeaky clean in its image, and simpler rules, no talking to markers or referees, and bad behaviour is instantly dealt with.. Also jazz up big events similar to what darts has done and other small sports ..

  7. I wasn’t there but it does seem that quite a lot of the audience heard what was said and saw the hand gesture. Certainly this coming from a prominent PSA person doesn’t place the association or the game in good standing. Maybe it’s these actions that are affecting our entry into the Olympics? Just a thought.
    As for Let’s they are part of the rules of the game, whether we like it or not, are we to compromise just for the sake of TV? Or are we to do away with them altogether? If they are done away with I’ll bet you the door still gets opened and players mouth off. probably more so! I could tell you a funny story about the PST and No Let, Stoke scoring, but that’s for another day.

  8. From what I’ve heard, it’s the amateurs running the sport like Gough and Beachill that have done all the damage. The PSA are bankrupt and only by having a friendly debtor agreeing to write off debts are they trying to show they are turning the corner. Gough has always been a sham and the Brit centric PSA and top PSA players who have backed him must realise that the game is up. His denials after what everyone saw and heard just sums the person up.

  9. I expect the defence will be something like
    “I was very upset with the decisions and muttered my feelings to MYSELF on court, also may have made a hand gesture to suit, but that was NOT directed at the ref. In the heat of the match we can all be irrational and unwise, its a huge mistake that I now regret. I apologise to any spectators, especially those with kids, who may have witnessed something that I should have managed to control on the night. When it happened, I was not acting as the PSA CEO, but as an over excited and animated team player struggling desperately to win for my team. It might have been better for myself and the ref to sort things out earlier, before it all blew up”
    Or something like that ….. Liam

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