England Squash make secret ruling after PSA chief’s bust-up with ref Whiteley
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Reporter
ALEX GOUGH, the PSA chief executive, has been handed a warning by England Squash and Racketball after complaints about his behaviour during a Premier Squash League match earlier this season.
Gough was playing for Chichester away to Surrey Health on November 5 when spectators claimed he mouthed obscenities to referee Malcolm Whiteley and also produced obscene hand gestures.
England Squash held an investigation after receiving written complaints from witnesses who were upset that children in the front row could hear the alleged swearing.
However, in a remarkable decision, ESR refused to make their findings public. Their head of competition and events, Chris Nutley, who runs the PSL, told Squash Mad: “This is an internal matter and the results will remain confidential.”
Mr Nutley had earlier ignored several requests for information from Squash Mad.
However, sources within the PSL have revealed that England Squash have written to Mr Gough (pictured above) and “reminded him of his responsibilities to act within the spirit of the game and be mindful of the fact that a mixed audience is likely to include children”.
The statement, seen by Squash Mad, adds: “After considering all the information and reports it has been concluded that there is insufficient evidence in regards to the accusations of swearing and hand gestures towards the match referee and no further action will be taken.
“Details will be kept on file for a further 12 months should any further incidents be reported.” England Squash’s attempts to keep the results of their decision a secret will be met with incredulity by many players and observers.
The governing body’s attempted cloak of secrecy is in complete contrast to a recent disciplinary decision against young England player Charles Sharpes, which ESR made public. He was banned for two months following a controversial British Under-23 final match against Ben Coleman, a ruling that was publicised by England Squash.
Gough, a former world ranked number five player, lost his match 3-1 to Ben Ford and denied swearing at Whiteley. He said: “He was upset with me speaking to him. I categorically did not swear at him.”
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.’
However, Whiteley said: ”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 ‘F***ing W**ker’ 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.”
Squash Mad last week emailed PSA press officer Nathan Clarke for a response. His reply yesterday (Monday) said: “Having seen the documentation myself, I wouldn’t construe it’s contents as that of a warning letter.
Action picture of Alex Gough courtesy of www.canarywharfsquash.com