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Who wants to be a referee?

There is no doubt that referees have been under the spotlight in recent days and weeks for all the wrong reasons and that’s not what we really want.

Some of the decisions have, to say the least, been questionable and very definitely debatable.

Only last week we witnessed the most horrendous tackle by McManaman of Wigan Athletic on a Newcastle player. I must say when I first saw it I cringed. It was a leg breaker.

Most, if not all, in the ground saw it. It was shown on television, from several different angles but the most important man in the ground didn’t see it. Why?

Referee Mark Halsey explained later that his view was blocked by a player and as a result he could not make a decision.

My question then is:

  • Did none of his two assistants see it?
  • Did the fourth official not see it
  • If not, then why not?

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Match officials today have all the latest gadgets like ear pieces, which puts them in instant communication with each other. The assistants also have flags with pulse buzzers to attract the referee. How is it that not one of the four men-in-black saw it?

The second unbelievable incident occurred in the Everton v Manchester City game.

Picture the scene or maybe you’ve seen it already. The ball is played into the Everton penalty area and Fellaini, the Everton midfielder, deliberately handles the ball not one, but two metres inside his own area. Decision? A free kick outside the penalty area.

Now the question is:

  • Why the free kick in the first place?
  • Was it for a hand ball? It had to be.
  • Why then was a penalty not awarded?
  • How could the referee believe that it was outside the penalty area when he was only 15 metres from the incident?
  • What was he thinking about?
  • How could he possibly say it was outside the box when he was so close to the incident?

The next thing that comes up in the minds of supporters – this referee is corrupt. It was a clear penalty and at a crucial time in the game – 86 minutes.

I’m sure he’s not corrupt but can you see where cynical people might begin to believe that something is not right?

The difference here between Mark Halsey, who refereed the Wigan v Newcastle game, and Lee Probert, who handled the Everton v Manchester City game, is that Lee Probert has a Fifa badge. He’s an international referee and this kind of performance is just not good enough.

Let me state quite categorically – I am not a referee knocker. I was there. I know what it’s like to be in charge of “big” games. I know what the pressures are like, but performances like these are just not good enough.

In my opinion there needs to be a root and branch overhaul of the EPL refereeing structure. Referees should be instructed to do their job according to the laws of the game without fear or favour to any one team or the other.

The people who train and mentor the men-in-black in the EPL also need to up their game.

These kind of mistakes should not happen. It’s not good enough to say “I didn’t see it”. Sorry Mr Ref – you should have seen it.

The referees are in the wrong place. I’ve watched them at corner kicks and free kicks around the penalty area and it’s not surprising that they are missing vital tackles and fouls.

It’s time to get back to basics lads and start all over again. If they are feeling the pressure of a big game then they should “cry” off it. If they feel pressure from certain club officials then the should “cry” off it. If the job of handling a premier league game is too stressful then they should “cry” off it.

Let some of the younger ones have a chance. I’m sure they won’t do much worse as these kinds of performances gives us all a bad name.

The gap between the EPL referees and their mainland European counterparts is as wide as the Mediterranean Sea.

I don’t criticise referees for what they are doing – I criticise them for what they are NOT doing.

Happy Whistling
Dr Errol Sweeney
twitter: @dr_errol

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