SOUTHEND United manager Paul Sturrock fears the fun is going out of football after referee Darren Deadman found himself in trouble for making a gesture towards Blues’ fans at Fleetwood Town on Saturday.

Deadman appeared to raise two fingers in the direction of the Southend supporters at the Highbury Stadium.

But Sturrock does not think the incident should be treated too seriously.

“I would just take something like that as tongue in cheek if I’m being honest,” said the Blues boss.

“When I was a player we swore at referee and they swore back and that was just what happened.

“However, nowadays everything is squeaky clean and I think things are getting too strict.

“I was told a female supporter of ours was ejected from the ground at the weekend for swearing and that’s just ridiculous.

“When something serious happens like Rio Ferdinand getting hit by a coin in the Manchester derby then something obviously needs to be done.

“But with the incident involving the referee we had the police involved as well as the referee’s association and it just seems like some of the fun is being taken out of the game.”

After being held to a 0-0 draw at Fleetwood, Blues will be looking to get back to winning ways in tonight’s FA Cup second round replay clash against Bury.

However, the Scotsman believes the Shakers will represent another tough test, especially with a number of his players doubtful for the game.

“We’re going to have to make changes for what will be a very hard game and we won’t know our team until just before the match,” said Sturrock.

“We have a few who will be having late fitness tests and Bury are a good side so we’re in for a very difficult 90 minutes.”

Blues will definitely be without the on loan Tamika Mkandawire and Britt Assombalonga who have both been denied permission to play by their parents club.

Scott Donnelly is cup tied having played in a previous round for Aldershot while Mark Phillips (knee) is likely to miss out.