Are refereeing standards dropping?

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West Ham United v Liverpool - Premier LeagueNot for the first time this season, a Premier League manager called for the standard of refereeing to be looked at following a defeat.

This time it was West Ham boss Sam Allardyce after his side’s controversial 2-1 defeat at home to league leaders Liverpool.

Referee Anthony Taylor was at the centre of it all after allowing West Ham’s equaliser to stand after Andy Carroll appeared to fall into Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, forcing him to drop the ball at the feet of Guy Demel.

However, the main bone of contention was when Taylor adjudged that Adrian, the Hammers keeper, had hauled down Jon Flanagan in the box and awarded a penalty.

Allardyce was seething after the game, claiming the referee at times was 60 yards from play and that he was a similar distance away when awarding Liverpool’s second spot-kick.

It’s not the first time the Hammers boss has been unhappy with the officials. He was far from happy with the referee’s performance after awarding a penalty in the 1-0 defeat at Hull City earlier in the season.

He’s not the only manager to complain about the standard of officiating in the Premier League, and this season is not the only one in which managers have rued a decision by the man in the middle.

Are standards slipping, are they getting worse or is it just managers and football clubs have more to lose?

To some extent it could be argued it’s a combination of the three. The pace of the game in the last few years, particularly in the Premier League, is ferocious. The fact the majority of foreign stars find it difficult to adjust to how quick the game moves in England, with some taking several seasons to get used to it, bears testament to that.

Keeping up with play can at times be difficult for the officials and when play moves from one end of the pitch to the other in super quick time, it’s perhaps no wonder referees are having to make snap decisions from a distance that most would be uncomfortable with.

So in that respect you could say standards have slipped. Is it the referee’s fault? I’d probably say it wasn’t. The level of scrutiny is so that any decision becomes a major talking point. Far too often
managers, and we have to include Allardyce in that, will use the man in the middle as a scapegoat to deflect from criticism of his players – or perhaps more importantly, himself.

Managers, commentators and pundits are very quick to lament the referee for making a poor decision yet what foundation do they have?

They have the benefit of watching the incident in slow motion and from the best possible angle, over and over again. Only then with any degree of confidence or certainty do they nail their colours to the mast. Yet the referee has to make a snap decision in quick-time, without the benefit of slowing the incident down or having the most
advantageous angle.

Unless we’re going to look at having an official in each half, as there is for linesmen, then I can’t see how there will be any great degree of change. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a goal
or a game because of a decision that has gone against you or your team, I couldn’t agree more, but if there weren’t those talking points in a game it would make for a pretty boring conversation down the Boleyn over a pint wouldn’t it?

A number of other sports have introduced technology to try and eradicate errors, but in the likes of cricket and rugby, they can still prove controversial. When the stakes are so high and the level of emotion involved, combined with it being a competition between two teams, one side isn’t going to be happy.

But surely that’s why we love sport so much, isn’t it?

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  • freddie says:

    I agree to a certain extent but there is no doubt in my mind that the “big” clubs get more of the “dodgy” decisions than the others – particularly when at home. In fact it could be argued that a certain manager who recently retired used blatant intimidating tactics against officials with some success.

  • peter iron says:

    Perhaps a new rule to allow video replays for all “contentious” goal decisions would be a step in the right direction .It works pretty well in rugby union and takes the heat off of the ref at the end of the match .Surely in this day and age the technology is available ? The game is getting quicker and there is so much more riding on results nowadays ,and yet we have a system of refereeing that dates from the eighteen hundreds .

  • JB says:

    An answer to this problem, would be to have a Hawkeye system that covers the whole field of play and every incident. I think they have this in Australia in their National Rugby League comp, where Rugby League (ARL) is the major tournament that the majority of people in New South Wales & Queensland follow, except those in Victoria who mainly follow Aussie rules (AFL)(Football, or soccer as it is called in Australia, comes of 2nd best as a spectator sport, as it is not the most popular game followed. Most Aussies like to actually participate in playing sport more than watching it) Sure, they have the match officials in charge of the game, but with the game being telecast & a huge video screen erected, that most clubs have, then if ever a contentious moment happens &/or there is a doubt as to what happened, the 3 match officials simply stop the game momentarily while the 3 of them all stand side by side & watch the action reply together on the huge video screen, THEN, the 3 of them come to an agreement & make a decision after watching the action replay. Due to the importance of these games, then I think it is only fair on the match officials that they be given the aid of action replays played directly after the incident has occurred. It only takes a few seconds, & in most cases under a minute, then with the 3 officials in agreement (and all of the specatators can also see the action replay on the huge video screen at the same time as the officials), a decision is made & acted upon & the game continues & EVERYONE IS HAPPY THAT THE RIGHT DECSION HAS BEEN MADE. I cannot understand why human error is allowed to continue to spoil such important games, with potentially the wrong decisions given. This system need not take away the officials power, but would aid them and settle any doubtful incidents amicably.

  • Peter says:

    I wonder if this debate would be taking place had the result stood at 1-1? We would be happy to accept an error that went in our favour. The main bone of contention seems to concern the winning goal but, if you take out all the major errors, the bin dippers would have still won 1-0.

    • JB says:

      Whatever the game or their results Peter, as peter iron & myself say, with the way the FA are running the officiating of matches, we are all living in the 18th century still. Rugby games have action replays on the huge screens. These need to be used & the human element of error TAKEN OUT!

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