Manchester United chief David Gill believes his club has been unfairly targeted by the Football Association (FA) because of their success.
The CEO made the claims in his new book, Champ19ns, after the English champions were at the centre of several controversial moments last season.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson was given a five-match touchline ban for comments made about referee Martin Atkinson in March, while striker Wayne Rooney was handed a two-match suspension after swearing into a TV camera.
Gill said the punishments were harsh and United were being made an example of because of their standing in the game.
“I do genuinely believe there have been some poor-ish decisions that, in my opinion, wouldn’t necessarily have hit other clubs,” he wrote in the book.
“That’s not to say I’m condoning Wayne’s comments because I don’t think they were correct, or what Sir Alex said because it wasn’t helpful.”
“At the same time, the actual punishments were harsh. We’re possibly being caught up in being one of the biggest clubs and the ‘Respect’ agenda being there – what better way to demonstrate the authorities are being tough than by hitting one of the biggest clubs the hardest?”
Ferguson received a three-match ban for his comments about Atkinson following the 2-1 loss to Chelsea, but the incident also activated a two-game suspended sentence handed down for accusing referee Alan Wiley of being ‘not fit’ in October 2009.
Following the Chelsea loss, Ferguson said: “You want a fair referee or a strong referee anyway, and we didn’t get that. I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst.”
Rooney was in trouble a month later for swearing into a TV camera after completing his hat-trick in a 4-2 win over West Ham.