Referee James Bell should have not spoken to Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe about his allegiance to Sheffield Wednesday before their defeat to Sunderland.

That is the view of ex-FIFA and Premier League official Keith Hackett, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Lowe revealed the conversation between the pair after the game.

The Argyle boss told Plymouth Live: “He was a Sheffield Wednesday fan and couldn’t wait to tell he used to sing my name on the Kop, and stuff like that.”

Bell then booked Lowe at half-time when he questioned why Sunderland’s opening goal of their 3-1 win was not ruled out for offside.

“James Bell talking about the fact he’s a Sheffield Wednesday fan, I don’t think that’s a clever idea,” Hackett told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.

“Ok, you have to declare your allegiance to a club pre-season and that’s where you should leave it. The allegiance to the club should not be chatted about. The reality is we’re human and we all do things differently. 

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“Belly will learn. Actually, his career is coming along quite nicely. He’s only young in terms of his years in the game but he’s a dedicated individual. People speak quite highly of him. He’s got everything going for him to become a Premier League referee, hopefully.”


Sunderland’s fine victory ended their torrid run of seven games without a win as they have had to settle for a place in the play-offs.

Lee Johnson’s side could still finish as low as fifth with both Lincoln City and Blackpool holding games in hand over the Black Cats.

In other news, Kevin Phillips has tipped Sunderland for a summer spending spree after a seven-figure reveal.