And today, here’s the trick in all its glory as Hackett writes in the Telegraph…
“I’m realistic enough not to expect many football fans to have given this much thought, but at this time of year my sympathies always go out to the country’s referees.
“In the Premier League especially, officials are about to enter into a schedule that is quite frankly madness.
“Michael Oliver and others will cover close to 1,500 miles during the festive period, with the next week or so putting an enormous physical and mental strain on Premier League referees.”
Ahhhhhhh. Yes of course it is instanity. This is PGMO, football’s notorious sercret service. In secrecy terms the football equivalent of the now-defunct KGB.
The piece continues…
“For a top-flight official, there is no such thing as a Christmas holiday. The demands of the period are such that alcohol and unhealthy foods must be strictly avoided, and many of those who are doing Boxing Day games will spend their Christmas Day on the motorway.”
Now let’s check the facts. Firstly, some Premier League referees work game after game after game for the simple reason there are not enough Premier League referees. It is not the crass stupidity of the Premier League and its match schedule department. It is not the demands of TV. It is the decision by PGMO to have a tiny number of referees and use them over and over and over again that is the problem.
Second it isn’t a problem that is forced upon them. They could appoint lots more referees, set up more training courses and bring them to a high standard. And in doing that they would not only stop referees having to drive across the country night and day and officiate at match after match. And there would be some other bonuses too.
First, they would reduce the chances of type III match fixing in which a very wealthy club with no scruples suggests to a referee with no scruples that if he could see his way to Club X not doing very well against Club Y then Club Z would be very grateful and would be delighted to offer him the use of the summer villa in Italy or the south of France or where ever takes his fancy.
Second they would increase the recovery times for refs and provide more time for mature reflection on their performances, a spot more training and a bit more of the social life. England does after all pride itself at being a country that looks after the family.
But the excuses continue: and here’s the all time deflective favourite. The “you might think this is bad but I remember when we worked down pit all night until 5am on Christmas Day and then came home to wrap up a bit of cheese to give to the kids” moment.
Hackett says, “I remember in the 1970s working on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day!”
Or indeed if his memory was as good as he might like probably not. Because football matches on Christmas Eve stopped in 1958. But hey who needs facts when one is working to protect the good name (I use the phrase lightly) of PGMO?
He does get one moment of reality when he says “Multiple matches in quick succession is tiring enough, but the reduced recovery time is an additional physical burden and can drastically reduce performance levels.”
That is of course, and a major concern to all of us who consider refereeing, but it is what he doesn’t say, and what TV pundits and radio pundits and those who write blogs and who actually remember there is a referee involved don’t say.
These problems are all entirely of PGMO’s own making and our prime question should be WHY? Why do they do this? And why do people like Hackett cover up for them all the time, going so far as to introduce fantasy tales about refereeing on Xmas Eve? Why does a paper like the Telegraph not bother to check the facts in an article of propoganda written for them?
In another part of his work Mr H also gives us a list of referees with the number of cards and the average per game. It opens…