UPDATED 31/12/17 | I note that in the Crystal Palace v Manchester City game officiated by Jon Moss that yet another reckless challenge that endangered the safety of an opponent did not receive the appropriate sanction. Jason Puncheon of Crystal Palace committed a red card challenge that saw Kevin De Bruyne stretchered off. Pep Guardiola again asked for match officials to take appropriate action.

In addition Zaha for the second week running was guilty of an act of simulation and should be reviewed by the panel.

It appears to me that the group of Select Group 1 referees are operating in a state of confusion and the management team, coaches and referee observers need to re-visit the laws of the game.

Several referees have contacted me to ask, what is going on with regard to English referees interpretation of law.

We need to remember that Premier League games are shown across 200 plus territories around the world. It is without question the most prestigious league in the world and that is why the professional referees must apply the law correctly.

Man City manager Pep Guardiola, in the Daily Telegraph, called on referees to do more to protect players from injury, even if it means his own team suffer disciplinary action as a result.

Guardiola was angered by dangerous challenges on Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling during his sides 4-1 Premier League victory over Tottenham earlier this month.
De Bruyne, in particular, was fortunate to escape serious injury when Dele Alli caught him with a studs-up tackle, while Harry Kane also attracted criticism for a lunge on Sterling, with both offending players receiving only yellow cards.

So you referees I remind you of the law applicable to


A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.

Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.

I watched the Newcastle United v Manchester City mid-week game, interested in how experienced referee Andre Marriner would perform and had my computer opened reading our REFCAM report by former Premier League Referee and Coach Rob Harris on the game.

Rob made reference to the laws of the game by pointing out that “Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and endangers the safety of an opponent must be sent off”.

In the 16th minute a challenge by Murphy on Gundogan could well have met the criteria. I was in no doubt that this challenge should have been sanctioned with a red card.

I was staggered that a referee of the experience of Andre Marriner failed to recognize that it was a foul worthy of a sanction.

I could quote several other incidents of a similar nature and I have formed an impression that referees are failing in their duty to apply law.

A lack of Referee Observers at the game, the process handed over to former players and managers whose knowledge of law is questionable.

In addition the PGMOL operate a review panel of former referees who on their day were weak in their approach to handing out the appropriate sanctions.

So what we are seeing is apparent guidance from the top that must be indicating to their officials to take a soft approach on the issuing of red card sanctions in the interest of the game.

If this is the case then the approach to “Event Management” and an attempt to avoid public criticism is weak management that leads to weak refereeing.

To allow players to commit red card challenges and allow them to pass without the appropriate sanction underpins why one of the worlds greatest managers is publicly calling for referees to protect players.



  1. As a ex Referee (Manchester County FA ) I hate to criticise referees ,because I know how hard it can be,but in the modern game there seems to be more attention to things that are important e.g. diving,taking shirts off after scoring,simulation,all important in controlling a game but a deliberate action to either injure or in some cases make career ending challenges seem to go unnoticed and therefore unpunished,I think we should concentrate on the more clinical tackles and come down heavily on the persistent offenders.


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