Why is our refereeing so bad?

Published: Monday, 26 October 2020

I don’t want to spend too much time on this - I’m bored with the whole thing but I repeat what I said on BeINSPORTS this weekend - we’ve got to hold Mike Riley and the PGMOL to account. It’s really important that we do. So here goes - again.

Somehow referees have elevated themselves to being the most talked about element of a football match these days. Why? How? I’ve said this before as well - do you remember when we used to say ‘the ref had a good game today - I hardly noticed him’. As Mourinho might say ‘not anymore’!

When is somebody going to do something about the ever declining standard of our refereeing? It can’t go on. Please. Please - for goodness sake. Help us. We’re becoming a laughing stock.

Did you see what Mario van der Ende said last week? ‘Who?’ I can hear you ask. He’s a retired Dutch ref that went to two World Cups during a glorious 15-year career. He was always regarded by those in the know as one of the very best.

He said he was ‘astonished’ to see Michael Oliver allow Jordan Pickford to ‘escape without sanction’ in the derby game. He added that he can only believe it’s because English referees ‘apply the laws of the game differently at home and abroad’.

‘When English referees go to the continent they stick to the laws of football. But as soon as they go back to their own island they use their own rules’. he said. Note the distinction between the reference to ‘laws’ and ‘rules’. He’s right. We have our own ‘rules’ in the PL - on our island.

Van der Ende again ‘when I saw how Michael Oliver refereed the game between Italy and Holland he was astonishingly good. But they make different decisions in England’.

At last. It’s not just me - or Keith Hackett or Mark Halsey - the only two genuinely honest X-refs who comment on the game. What they see must drive them mad.

One last quote from Van der Ende. ‘We used to call what Pickford did a “foul with contempt of death”. I can’t believe Oliver didn’t show a red card.

‘And I have no idea why VAR didn’t step in. There was all the time in the world with Van Dijk on the floor injured’. Quite.

I’d love to know what Mr Van der Ende made of Harry Maguire’s head lock on Cesar Azpilequeta. My goodness - was there ever a more obvious penalty? This time the man in VAR was Stuart Attwell - who gave Michy Batshuayi a significantly softer pen at Palace the weekend before. The inconsistency is staggering.

Why was Arsenal’s goal v Leicester disallowed? It shouldn’t have been. No-one was interfering with Schmeichel. The keeper knew it. His defence knew it. No-one complained. Why didn’t Michail Antonio get a pen when he had his legs taken away clean through on goal v Man City?

Why are refs not being asked to look at monitors in situations like these? How can Attwell make two such starkly different decisions one week after the other? Why hasn’t a ref visited a monitor and stood by his original decision?

Is it because Mike Riley is still making all the decisions remotely? He lost the battle on sending refs to monitors - so is he trying to have the last laugh? Is he telling refs what their decisions should be as they approach a monitor?  I believe he is. Prove me wrong Mr Riley. Like Australia’s ‘A’ League - let us listen to your conversations. Why not? I’ve argued this before. What have you got to hide? Help us. Educate us. Let us all listen in to the decision making process - broadcasters and fans alike. Why are you scared? Or have I already answered my own question?

Enough. Let’s talk football.

I’m so pleased to see David Moyes smiling again. Here’s a man that’s been beaten black and blue since leaving Everton. It’s all history now so there’s no point dwelling on it. Moyes is a good man. An honest man - a good footballing man. He’s right when he says he’s now got a club now that might just be the last with genuine potential to make a significant impact in the PL. That is if the owners - and Karen - back him and let him get on with the job. Up until now they’ve always thought they knew better than anyone that they’ve employed. They didn’t. They don’t. Oh - and let Moyes do the buying.

In conclusion - a word about one of the very best broadcasters the U.K. has ever seen. I wonder what Frank Bough would make of the eulogies I’m reading following his passing this weekend?

I didn’t know him - but I used to watch him - in awe - when I worked on Grandstand in the late 70’s. He was good - very very good.

His career ended prematurely. We all know the story but as Frank himself said ‘I’m not a wicked man, nor do I mean any harm or evil to people. I’ve made mistakes but everyone is entitled to do that’. Sadly, he wasn’t. I never wavered in my admiration for Frank as a broadcaster - so I find it galling now to see so many crawling out of the woodwork saying so many nice things about him. It’s too late guys. Where were you when he needed you?

One of his crimes, of course, was the use of cocaine in an era when it was frowned upon. These days it’s almost a required ‘must’ in LE, print journalism and in tv sports departments. There’s another irony.

RIP Frank. You truly were one of the greats. You - Coleman, Davies, Moore - what an era. None was perfect - but all were brilliant.