Boxing day came with a bang this year for 2 Referees. Mike Dean and his group must have seen their lives flash before their eyes when Ferguson decided to storm around the pitch, confronting anyone with a match official shirt on and absolutely destroy the Respect campaign.
Whilst there has been no formal report of Ferguson’s behaviour by the referee or the match delegate, the FA have decided not to charge him retrospectively. So you have to wonder who will be the one to stand up and confront Ferguson? If you look a little deeper you will realise why many managers such as Ferguson get away with what they do.
In the past season and a half there has only been 1 manager sent to the stands. That was Alan Pardew who at the time pushed Linesman Peter Kirkup which left the referee with no choice at all - with all the cameras present even Alan Pardew had to come out and accept he was in the wrong – something which managers seem to struggle with nowadays.
A Select Group referee (Premier League) is graded by:
[a] An assessor who up until this season used to be present but now watches a DVD after the gam.
[b] The home and away manager.
[c] A match delegate who is usually someone who has played professional football or managed at a professional level.
According to Sam Wallace’s article in The Independent:
That rating from the manager feeds into the delegate’s rating. At the end of the season, the referees are placed in a league table according to their combined overall match assessor and match delegate ratings.
Which then leads to deciding [i] what level of Premier League games that referee will get the following season and [ii] what bonus they will get at the end of the season. Therefore it would make sense to stay on the right side of managers which is a flawed, not least because there is potential for a referee to be influenced when deciding whether or not to report a manager.
An example of this is cited again in The Independent:
Mark Clattenburg did not referee an Everton game for more than five years after his part in a controversial Merseyside derby in which he sent off two Everton players, failed to give the club a late penalty and did not dismiss Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt for a two-footed challenge.
All of this leads to farcical situations such as what happened on Wednesday and this could be sorted out by taking away the manager’s rating of the referee or at least reducing the impact it could have on a referees mark.
A manager could easily be swayed by the decisions their team receives, regardless of whether they are wrong or right which is unfair on the referee who may then find themselves missing out on “big games” such as ones at say, Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge.
Everyone appeared to accept that regardless of what was said or done by Ferguson at the game and after it was wrong and should have been punished. When it broke there was discussion about why but none of what I read suggested in anyway that referee Mike Dean and his assistants were deserving of what Ferguson gave them, that was until I read an article by a fellow referee in the Daily Mail which absolutely laid into Mike Dean. Which again destroys the idea of the Respect campaign!
Why should any manager, coach, player or fan respect a referee when referees can’t even respect each other? The writer suggests:
…by electing to omit the details of Ferguson’s ‘discussion’ with the officials, Dean not only let himself down but also his colleagues and most importantly, the army of referees.
I have to ask what would the writer have done in that situation? It’s very easy to sit behind a computer and say, “they were wrong here and there” very similar to the crew on Match of the day, but it would be much harder to actually be out there, trying to calm someone like Ferguson down without sending them to the stands. Because you know that would pretty much mean the end of getting the good games let alone facing the potential to be reprimanded behind closed doors.
Then we get onto Chris Foy at QPR v West Brom which on the face of it seemed a very simple game but it soon turned sour when Rob Green decided to push Fortune in the back before retreating behind his line for some reason. Fortune then moves back to the goal line and Rob Green now wants to come out – but in all fairness his path is blocked off by Fortune.
I think the main problem here was Mr Foy’s positioning, he starts on the edge of the D looking in, then moves central meaning all he will be doing is looking at the many arms and legs tangling. That’s not to say the decision is wrong, personally I thought it was right as it was Green who committed the first infringement; but certainly at Premier League level it meant his decision could be question by managers and his decision to award the goal lost it’s credibility despite being right.
Then we saw Ridgewell bring his arm up, inside the penalty area to block the ball… right in front of the assistant. A tough one to call as you could say he brought his hand up to block the ball but you could also argue it was to protect his face as his hand and arm covered his face. I can’t be 100% either way and therefore I can understand why Mr Foy and his assistant didn’t give it.
That shouldn’t allow for manager Harry Redknapp to come out and call the decisions “scandalous” which is then backed up by former referee Graham Poll who again throws the whole respect campaign out of the window by saying:
One manager who I had sympathy for was Harry Redknapp who was careful to describe Chris Foy’s decisions as ‘scandalous’ rather than make a personal attack. And he was right!
I actually think calling decisions “scandalous” is a personal attack and for Poll, a former referee to say this is okay just goes to show how difficult it is to earn respect when we can’t even respect each other.
We need to see a change to the system whereby referees receive marks from an unbiased position and hopefully this will give referees a fighting chance to clean up the game.