Refereeing – Is it time for change in the UK?


Mike Dean has been demoted to Championship football this weekend following his – as the Guardian describes it – “erratic” display at Old Trafford last weekend in the game between Manchester United and Chelsea.

His linesman on the day Simon Beck has also been demoted having failed to raise his flag when Didier Drogba was clearly in an offside position when he scored Chelsea’s second goal of the game.

The pair will now take charge of Bristol City’s home game against Swansea on Saturday. But, is this really a good enough solution from the Referees Association?

For me, it is blatantly obvious that they have identified the poor performance from the officials in question yet the solution is the ignominy of being demoted.

Admittedly, the errors on the day did cancel each other out – both Manchester United and Chelsea, were denied clear penalties by Dean. Gary Neville barged into Nicolas Anelka while Yuri Zhirkov tripped Park Ji-Sung in the box.

Perhaps due to pressure from his previous game in where he awarded a penalty after Blackburn’s Martin Olsson deceived him with a dive – Dean was never going to give one at Old Trafford.

And while as I mentioned before, Drogba’s goal was offside, Manchester United did manage to clamour a goal back – which was handled in by Fredrico Macheda, therefore you could say fair is fair, right? Wrong.

Sir Alex Ferguson – who is more critical on referees than most called it a “poor, poor performance” before saying “When I saw it was Mike Dean I did worry, I have to say.”

Time and time again we hear about the Respect campaign, yet, with all the injustices that seem to be occurring in the game these days – it is hard to abide by this and give referees the respect the obviously deserve.

Former referee Graham Poll wrote in his autobiography – “We are not there to be liked. We are there to try to make the right decisions.”

So many of the calls they make are incorrect. There is a distinct lack of consistency from referees also. Mistakes are part of all walks of life – you and I will both accept that, but it is simply not good enough in football anymore. Each game has so much riding on it – be it promotion, relegation and even reputation.

These days it is easy to cry wolf and call for video technology to be introduced at every little injustice but for how long more do we have to live with these errors?

Does a showpiece tournament such as the World Cup or Champions League Final have to be decided by – a) an offside goal, b) a dive to win a penalty – which is converted or c) a repeat of the Thierry Henry debacle before people sit up and take notice?

A very interesting point which was raised on 606 last Sunday evening in regards to refereeing was that – we have foreign players playing in our leagues, therefore why not have the same with referees?

Gabriele Marcotti said that rather than having a closed system for referees, the Premier League or the Football League chose to bring in the best referees regardless of nationality. It would take the Premier League putting pressure on the Referees Association and Mike Riley – but there is scope for it.

We all want what is best for the game and that is that games are officiated at the highest level and that all the laws of the game are enforced. There are far too many arguments for and against video technology and that is whole different ball game and is something I will be discussing in the near future.

For now – a complete overhaul in refereeing in the Premier League and Football League needs to be undertaken.

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