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'Lunatics' are running the ref asylum

In what is clearly a case of the “lunatics running the asylum”, a decision has been made to “stand down” a referee because of a clear blunder.

The referee “lunatics” I’m referring to are the people in charge of match officials in the Barclays Premier League (BPL). Mike Riley and his associate Neale Barrie are the ones who run Professional Games Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

They are the people charged with appointing, controlling and developing match officials for the top league in England.

Last Sunday a perfectly legitimate goal scored by Newcastle United’s Cheick Tiote was disallowed by referee Mike Jones.

There were two of Mr Tiote’s teammates in an offside position but not interfering with play and the goal should have stood.

It has to be made clear at this point that the assistant referee, part of whose function is to flag for offside, did not raise his flag. The wild celebrations that followed the ball nestling in the back of the Manchester City net were cut short by the referee.

For reasons known only to himself Mr Jones decided to consult his assistant and after a brief chat raised his hand indicating offside and cancelled the goal. Just a small point – why didn’t the ref consult via his electronic ear piece?

All hell broke loose on the touchline with the home manager Alan Pardew going berserk. Such was his frustration that he allowed himself to get involved in a verbal spat with the City manager. Television pictures (lip reading) show Mr Pardew directing some very unsporting and uncomplimentary comments at the visiting manager Manuel Pelligini.

The irony here is that at least Mr Jones had the courage of his conviction in acting unilaterally and disallowing the goal. Messrs Riley and Barrie, in their “hey day”, would not have had that courage.

I’m not saying that Mr Jones was correct – he wasn’t. In fact he should have known better.

Law 11 (offside) states that:

A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

  • Interfering with play or
  • Interfering with an opponent or
  • Gaining an advantage by being in that position

It goes on to state:

  • “interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a teammate.

The only conclusion I can come to is that Mr Jones must have thought the ball touched the player in an offside position as it was passing him on it’s way to the net.

The ball certainly did go very close to him and the player can be clearly seen making an effort to get out of the way.

The PGMOL bosses are not slow when it comes to hanging their colleagues out to dry to placate the clubs.

Only recently the same Mr Riley, who was a very ineffective and weak referee during his active career, apologised to West Bromwich Albion on behalf of ref Andre Mariner for allowing Chelsea score a controversial injury-time penalty that earned the home team a 2 – 2 draw.

Let me state here and now, I am not condoning poor refereeing. Nor am I suggesting that low standard officiating should be contemplated or tolerated.

What I am saying is that better screening of people to be referees needs to be undertaken so that a panel of well trained, well motivated and dedicated individuals are recruited to handle games in the top leagues of each country.

More money and resources needs to be made available to ensure that this goal (excuse the pun) is achieved.

At least Mr Jones had the guts to act on his decision and, although he got it wrong this time, he will learn from it and be a better referee, I hope, in the future.

Happy Whistling
Dr Errol Sweeney
twitter: @dr_errol

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