This article is part of the series : REFEREE REVIEW 2012
By Walter Broeckx
In our previous article we have pointed at the things we found that are bad in the referee world in general.
Now as we reach the end of the year review we will make some propositions on how the PL can improve and go to a higher level. And also at the same time move on to a fairer level. Because we have proven that the PL is not a fair place and when a sports is not played in a fair way it will lose out at the end. I think we all know there were sports that once were sports but turned out as being organised and being decided before the game, fight or whatever actually took place. The die hard fans will still see it and accept that they are looking at a cheating contest.
Allow me to doubt that most football supporters will accept such a thing. The die hard club fans of the benefiting teams will accept it as they win prices. But I admit if I wouldn’t have been such a die hard supporter of Arsenal I would have stopped watching football.
In fact I do for a big part. I only watch the CL when Arsenal plays. But for the rest I ignore it and I just check the scores. The money the sponsors spent on me is lost money as I will not buy their products because I think the CL is a somewhat fixed league.
If I didn’t have to do the reviews I also would not watch the other games in the PL. Because of the reviews and my research in the last seasons I just feel that there are things behind the scenes at work that are not just. So the day I stop my reviewing…will be the day that the PL has lost me as a spectator. I will then only watch the Arsenal games.
I don’t like injustice and injustice makes me determined to fight it. If the PGMOL and the FA want me to stop…they just should stop the injustice I see. Or at the very least entire a dialogue with us over the findings we have produced.
And I don’t just mean the injustice that hit Arsenal over the last seasons. My football heart bleeds as it is seeing any injustice on a football field. Who ever wins from it, who ever loses from it.
So what follows should not be read as : how would Arsenal benefit from what I propose, because I am very realistic and know that on some days they will suffer from it. But when I can go home to my country from a game at the Emirates in the knowledge that the final result was a fair one and that no influence was there, I can take any defeat on the way home. Losing is part of football, cheating is not!
So what should change to improve football in general and in particular in the PL? What follows isn’t a list of all things I think should change or be considered to change. I could go on for a while in fact. But let us start with a few things that really should be taken care of as soon as possible.
1. Fight time wasting: bring in extra balls
I want to start with something so simple that it beggars believe that it hasn’t been enforced yet. In a lot of other European top leagues they have found a very easy solution to stop time wasting when the ball goes out of play. Every ball boy has an approved match ball and when the ball goes out the ball boy just gives his ball and the team that has to take the throw has not excuse to delay the restart of the game.
This is such a simple solution that it reeks to sheer criminal neglecting what is good for football. We don’t pay our money to see 30 minutes lost per game by teams who take 30 seconds to 1 minute for a throw or a goal kick. And most of all because most of the refs just ignore this time wasting completely. Maybe they are too tired to follow the game and are happy with the rest they can get? And this can have something to do with my second proposition.
2. Bring in younger referees
The game has become faster than ever (apart from the time wasting) and yet there are a lot of older refs who are reaching the age of 50 or have passed it. I also have passed that date and I just know that things go down hill from then on.
So having half a dozen refs who are 50 is not good. I have noticed a lot of refs running in a way that makes it obvious he is getting tired. And this is something that would improve with younger referees who are fitter and who can run further and for longer. Experience is fine but when you can’t follow the game you will miss things and you will miss incidents.
3. Bring in more referees in the PL
In most leagues in Europe they have more referees in the top division than there are refs in the PL. The result of having only 16 PL referees (of whom a few are getting older) is that you have some refs doing the same team over and over again. A result is that some teams get the same ref 5 or 6 times in one season.
This means that this one ref can make a difference of some 15 or even 18 points for that team. This is unacceptable. Certainly in the light that we have shown that some refs are a walking disaster for some teams and should be kept away from those teams. But there is no room for such a thing as it would only mean that other refs will have to do more games.
So this is walking in circles. The only solution is to bring on more referees so we have a least and this is a minimum of 20 PL refs at out disposal. By having 20 refs you could organise the league in such a way that each team only has each ref twice in the season. Reducing the impact or each ref to a maximum 6 points per season. In fact I think that we should have something of 25 referees in the PL. That way refs also can get more rest at times and you also have to take in account that also refs can get injured.
Not doing this is a crime against fairness. This is something that the PGMOL must put right during this season. If not, they admit that the whole procedure of educating refs to the top level is a gigantic fiasco. And it is their job to produce the refs. Quality wise but also quantity wise. And if they are not capable of doing this, heads should roll.
4. Make sure the final result of each game is a fair one
Even with more refs, younger refs, fitter refs, you still will have mistakes. Mistakes that will lead to teams winning titles or losing titles. Mistakes that will lead to teams being relegated or staying up. We should make sure that the final result of the league and thus the final result of each game is fair.
When a goal is scored it should be a goal beyond doubt. When a penalty is given, it should be a for a foul and not for a dive. When I go home on my 4 or 5 hours journey from the Emirates I want to know that the result was correct. Not like last seasons when I knew the result was wrong even before the final whistle because at home they send me a message that the ref made a mistake even before the game restarted on the field. So how can we do this?
4.a. Goal line technology
This is a first step that was promised for this season. I might have missed something but it all has gone very quiet on this. I remember from last season a few goals that weren’t given and some that were given that never passed the line. Come on PGMOL, come on FA, you promised it, now deliver. But that is not all.
4.b. Use video replays on the important decisions
I think every goal should be checked immediately after it has been scored. Was there a missed offside? Was there a handball? Was there something the ref could not see?
This will lead to the assistant giving the attackers more benefit of the doubt as it should be by the way. Because they know that even if they didn’t give the offside, the people behind the review can still put it right. It will add even more drama to the game as each goal will be celebrated twice. If the goal was valid the scoring team will celebrate twice. If the goal was wrongly given, both set of supporters will have a moment to cheer about.
Also each penalty can be checked immediately. Now it takes almost always up to a minute before a penalty is taken. First the team that got the penalty against them will protest the decision with the ref or the assistant and during that time the reviewers can look at the incident and agree with it or let the ref know that it was a dive.
No need to run at the ref when he gives a penalty because if it was a foul the reviewers will confirm it. And when it wasn’t a foul the decisions will be turned around. Again this will be a reason for more celebration when the decision is given or for the other team when it is reversed.
A goal from a penalty could lead to a total of 3 celebrations. One when the ref gives the penalty, a second one when the decision is confirmed and a third when the penalty goes in.
It will bring more excitement to the game but most of all it will bring more fairness to the game. It will bring more fairness for all the teams. It will take away from the pressure that is put on the refs who only have a split second to make a decision. Now they know that even if they made an initial mistake the reviewer is there to help them to give the correct decision.
Because every fair ref only wants to make the right decisions. Every fair ref wants to leave the field in the knowledge that the outcome of the game was a fair one and not down to him making mistakes. In some countries referees are demanding the help from reviews in order to achieve that. (The Netherlands are such a country) .
The main question is: DO WE WANT TO MAKE FOOTBALL FAIR AS MUCH AS CAN BE? My answer to this is YES!!
To use a phrase that was used by a big sportswear company on these demands: JUST DO IT!
This is the end of our year review of the referees of the season 2011-2012. We hope you enjoyed it. We hope we have educated you about the rules. We hope we have showed you that not all refs are bad (some were) and that not all refs are always biased or bent (sometimes it looked as if they were). We hope we have given you something to think about, to talk about, to discuss….
I would like to thank once again our team of referee reviewers, Dogface and Tony. I want to thank the ones who live under the same roof as our reviewers who had to endure their husbands putting so much time and effort in this project. Maybe they are the forgotten victims of bad referees. If all was well in football we wouldn’t be doing this and we would have more time for our wives and children. So they also have been contributing to this series by allowing us to do what we did.
I thank you for your attention and remember: we will continue our fight for better referees in the PL. Just check the follow up out at Referee Decisions. Hope to see you there.
- REF REVIEW 2012: Blatant Bias, incompetence, imbalance, inaccuracy, poor selection policy
- The Untold Award for the Best Referee of 2012
Ref Review 2012 – the index