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Victory Through Harmony
By Walter Broeckx
In part one of this series Walter presented the first two points in his argument that there is something very wrong with refereeing in the Premier League -noting that there are not nearly enough referees and that those that we do have are overloaded with work – which reduces their effectiveness and efficiency. In this article he continues the debate with two further points.
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Following on from point 1 (not enough referees) we have the problem that too few refs means too much familiarity.
As a ref, the thing I hate most about having the same team over and over again is that when you arrive on a ground the people meet you with your first name and greet you like that good old friend that has just returned. The better you know some people the more difficult it becomes to keep a distance.
And there should be distance between the players, managers and the refs. The moment you use first names the distance has gone and you can be in trouble. How can you blow for a foul against a team who on arrival at the ground has given you a hug? (I’m speaking metaphorically of course – not literally). This can have an influence on your game. As can your arrival at a ground being greeted by the : ‘Oh no, not him again!” whisper coming your way.
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How unbiased can you stay after these set of welcomes? We are human beings and we want to be loved or (as in some cases) love to be hated. It affects you and the way you feel. And you have to be a strong character to not let this have any influence on your game.
So I hate it when I have to do the same team twice. Even though I usually get the first type of reception but still I don’t like it. I want to keep a distance between me and the players, the managers. Because everything that can have a negative impact on my refereeing should be banned.
So you see that when a ref, because of the shortage of refs in the league, has to do the team some 5 or 6 times in a season, he will carry bits of the previous games in to the next game. And this should be avoided.
In an ideal world you should have one game from a team at home and another game of that team away from home and that should be it for one season. But as the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) and their General Manager, Mike Riley have not managed to recruit enough refs there will be refs who will do a lot of games of the same team.
Another perverse side effect is that refs, by knowing the teams and the players too well, can use their skill to influence the mindset of the players and force them in to errors and outbursts. Believe me, the better you know the players the better you can wind them up and make them lose their head.
So what should be done? The answer is in Mike Riley’s hands: do what you are paid for and get us more refs. And if you cant just step down and bring in people who can do this.
4. Influence as a result of not enough refs
A very perverse side effect of the first three items in my list is the fact that the more games you get as a ref the more influence (both positive and negative) you can have in the league.
A ref who is a hidden supporter of a team (for whatever reason) and who does 5 or 6 games of this team could add 15 or 18 points to that team by helping them in the course of a season. If he only got them once or twice he could have a maximum influence of 6 points in a season. And this can also work the other way round. When a ref has something against a team he can cost them as much as 15 or 18 points. In fact one top ref can on his own influence the table for one team (by favouring one and being against another) by a massive 24 points.
Let me explain that further: he can give let us say 15 points in favour of team A which he supports (either because he likes them, or because of favours offered) by doing the games of that team. But he can also make sure that he can take away some 9 or 12 points in the games that he is doing with the biggest rival from his favoured team.
So imagine a ref doing all the top games of a team which he secretly supports for whatever reason. Doing his best to help them and also in the other games against lower teams. Let us take 5 games of this team so he could help them to 15 points or make sure they get those 15 points. But as he also will have the rival teams for some 5 times in a season he can take points away from them in those games.
This is an incredibly unhealthy situation. A situation that should be avoided. At all time. At all cost.
Titles can be won, titles can be lost like that.
And there I have a solution that would benefit the EPL a lot. As the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) and their General Manager, Mike Riley do not seem able to cure this problem they should call for the help of foreign officials to do the top games.
I would dare to go further and start a European pool of refs who do games all across Europe on a professional basic. What could be wrong by having a top ref from Italy do the game MU – Arsenal or Chelsea- Liverpool? Or a top ref from Spain doing a top game in England? Or one from Germany? Or why not one from Holland or Belgium or France?
If in the CL two English teams meat the game will be done by a ref from another country. So it can be done in the CL. Why not in the EPL?
The series will continue for there are still more problems and possible solutions to explore.
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