Chris Wilder’s ‘sandwich-gate’ comments came after assistant referee reached over him

Chris Wilder shouting during a match

The details of Chris Wilder’s infamous “Sandwich-gate” bust-up at Selhurst Park can be revealed, with the Sheffield United manager mid-rant at referee Tony Harrington when an assistant official cut across him to “fetch and eat a sandwich”.

Wilder was fined £11,500 for his media comments implying referee bias after the Jan 30 defeat by Crystal Palace, but his interviews will be remembered for feeling disrespected by an assistant eating as he talked to Harrington.

It has emerged the assistant cut across Wilder while he was talking to get his sandwich and started eating as the manager and referee talked. Dan Cook and Mark Scholes were Harrington’s assistants for the Palace win but the official at the centre of “Sandwich-gate” has never been named.

In the Football Association’s written reasons for the case, the incident was included as one of the submissions from Wilder to an independent regulatory commission. Wilder admitted the charge but made submissions and listed other mitigating factors.

‘This caused further frustration’

“Following the fixture, CW (Wilder) attended the referee’s dressing room to discuss the fixture,” read the FA document. “During the discussion, CW felt disrespected by one of the assistant referees who had reached across him to fetch and eat a sandwich whilst CW was in the process of putting his case across to the referee. This caused further frustration and disappointment for CW.”

Wilder’s FA charge came over claims a Premier League referee told him to expect 50-50 decisions to go against his newly promoted team this season. He called the performance of Harrington “ridiculous” and was widely reported to have said referees may base decisions on which teams they face next season and that they believe Sheffield United will be relegated.

“The soft fouls go against us. It’s an easy one. I’ve said it before. The thought process and the outlook is they won’t be long in this division so you know I’m happy refereeing the other team next year so don’t upset too many people,” he said.

It was after the match that Wilder also accused the sandwich-eating official of a complete lack of respect. “One of his assistants was eating a sandwich at the time, which I thought was a complete lack of respect,” he said. “Hopefully he enjoyed his sandwich while he was talking to a Premier League manager.”

The written reasons outlined why Wilder was handed his fine. “The commission had sympathy for CW given the pressurised situation in which he found himself but considers that football managers, in general, work in a highly pressurised environment and it is almost always the case that they find themselves facing the media immediately soon after a fixture has ended,” their reasons read.

“Managers thus need, and should have experience, in showing restraint when faced with the media’s line of questioning.

“Whilst the commission sympathised with the circumstances, the commission did not believe that such circumstances amount to mitigation given the regularity in which the circumstances arise.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.