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Refs under fire from ex refs

It is hypocrisy of the highest order when refs, who themselves were slow, reluctant, even afraid to apply the Fifa Laws of the Game (LOTG) when they were active, should have the audacity to come out and criticise currently active colleagues after they have retired.

This happened recently when ex premier league middlemen Mark Halsey and Graham Poll stated in the UK’s Mirror and Mail newspapers respectively that referee Mike Dean’s performance in the West Ham v Manchester United was less than what it should have been.

All of this in the wake of the red card issued by Mr Dean to West Ham’s Sofiane Feghouli after just 15 minutes of their league encounter with Manchester United at the Olympic stadium on January 2.

There have been many opinions expressed as to whether the decision was a correct one or not.

In my opinion it was the correct decision based on instructions given to Premier League referees stating that any player who goes into a tackle with both feet off the ground should get an automatic red card.

Based on that instruction Mr Dean was correct and so the red card was issued.

However, the FA, who lack a certain amount of backbone and fortitude themselves when it comes to supporting match officials, dutifully, no doubt under pressure from the club concerned, rescinded the red card and the player was restored to play in the FA cup game against Manchester City.

Feghouli did play but it didn’t matter as the ‘Hammers’ were thrashed 5-0 at home.

Mr Halsey, not the strongest official during his time in the middle and also prone to gaffs, said that while he disagreed with some of Mr Dean’s decision-making, especially with red cards, he believes that he’s one of the better refs in the premiership today.

As if it’s not bad enough to be criticised by one ex colleague, along comes another. This time in the shape of, in my opinion, an even weaker referee than Mark Halsey.

Writing in the Mail newspaper, this ex colleague also said Mr Dean’s performances were not up to scratch this season.

Graham Poll, himself a less than satisfactory referee when he was active, now has the comfort of sitting in judgement on Mike Dean and other referees’ decisions while having the luxury of slow motion action replays. Wonderful!!!

Well Messrs Halsey and Poll, you should know what it’s like – you were there in the “heat of battle” with only one opportunity to make a split second decision and not have the benefit of the vast amount of technology that is available today for pundits and commentators.

How expert you can appear to sound with all this technological help. How knowledgeable you sound with the benefit of hindsight and replays.

Where’s the real problem?

There is a major problem within the refereeing fraternity in the English Premier League (EPL) and their bosses at the Professional Games Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

The level of morale is at an all time low and real leadership is sadly lacking. Why?

Very simply, there is far too much interference from the soccer politicians within this organisation. There is too much interference from the “brass” at the Premier League and the FA, and the system of referees’ salaries and match fees needs to be seriously looked at.

At the moment referees and their assistants are paid out of budgets from the FA, the Premiership, and the Championship. This is wrong because the impression could be formed that “he who pays the piper, calls the tune.”

This is not good for football; this is not good for referees and refereeing.

Mark Halsey has already said that when he was refereeing he was told by his bosses at the PGMOL to give so many corner kicks, so many throw ins, so many yellow cards.

Is it correct that he and Mr Poll should now be allowed to publicly criticise current middlemen when they themselves were acting under instructions from the PGMOL? Who is to say that Mr Dean was not also acting under instructions from his masters?

I think it says something about the leadership in refereeing at the PGMOL and the relationship with ex members.

In my opinion a root and branch overhaul of the structures in refereeing is required and referees need to be given the freedom to apply the LOTG as and when the situation or need arises with NO interference from anyone.

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