GARY Rowett believes referees have the right to have a go back at players – as long as it's in the "context and spirit of the game".
Jon Moss escaped an FA sanction after Bournemouth's Dan Gosling claimed the referee made "niggly" and "sarky" comments during their 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United earlier this month.
Gosling claimed Moss mocked the Cherries' perilous position in the Premier League table, and the midfielder demanded an apology from the referee.
Rowett understands why referees might be tempted to give some lip back to players.
"I read [about Moss's alleged] comments and if that's the context it's in, where he's just said that to players, then you'd suggest that's probably not the right thing to do," Rowett said.
"But, if players have been bantering him beforehand then why can't he do the same back? I can't judge that situation.
"But I've certainly had it in the past where you might say, 'Ref, you're having one'. And he might respond, 'I'm having one? What about you?'
"You've got to chuckle. They're people, they've got to be able, at least within the context and the spirit of the game, that if you're giving them a bit a stick they can give a little bit back as long as it doesn't get too stupid.
"For me to comment properly I'd have to know exactly what was said, but I certainly never had a problem with a referee having banter. If it went further than that then possibly I might not have been as happy."
Rowett explained his and his players' approach to communications with officials.
He said: "If I think there are certain things we're not getting, certain things that are consistent – let's say Smudge [Matt Smith] is being fouled a lot – then it is something I'll shout to the players to tell the ref and keep informing the ref of. You just want fairness.
"But I certainly wouldn't encourage the players to put pressure on the referee as a strategy. I don't think that's the right thing to do.
"The only thing we have a strategy around is trying to make sure that whenever there's a situation on the pitch that the likes of Pearcey, Hutch, Coops, they control it and don't let all the players confront [officials] like we've seen in the past where a club gets in trouble and gets fined.
"Just as a matter of discipline we try to ensure they keep everyone else away and they deal with it as the senior players on the pitch."
Image: Millwall FC