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keith hackett

    Britain Soccer Football - Southampton v Manchester United - EFL Cup Final - Wembley Stadium - 26/2/17 Southampton's Manolo Gabbiadini looks dejected after scoring a goal that is disallowed Reuters / Darren Staples Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a late winner in the EFL Cup final to give Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho his first success since his summer appointment, as Southampton were beaten at Wembley.

    The Saints were the better side for the majority of the game and should have taken the lead when in-form striker Manolo Gabbiadiani saw a goal contentiously ruled out. The decision to rule out the Italian's first-half effort, which was incorrectly ruled out for offside against Ryan Bertrand, who was way out of the action at the far post while the Italian was clearly onside, baffled many fans and pundits alike.

    Keith Hackett in his Daily Telegraph column discusses the issue, whilst you can also get more discussion on The Ref Show later today,

      Alex Griffiths talking to Clive Thomas

      Football Soccer Britain - Manchester United v Southampton - Premier League - Old Trafford - 19/8/16 Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Southampton manager Claude Puel Reuters / Darren Staples Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

      In contemplating the 2017 EFL Cup re-enactment of the 1976 FA Cup Final refereed by himself, Clive Thomas does see a parallel between Tommy Docherty versus Lawrie McMenemy and Jose Mourinho versus Claude Puel: “Funnily enough, it's a similar situation in terms of the odds on offer from the bookies.

      “In my day, Saints were given no chance, yet they won it [1-0]. Back then, however, it didn't have anything to do with the strength of team a manager would agonise over, because everyone played their strongest team.

      “So, if United play their strongest team this time, I fear the Southampton players might struggle to get into the game at all at Wembley,” Thomas adds.

      What you can't imagine is a repeat of a twist not many fans knew of at the time: a phone call placed by Docherty to the winners' hotel near Kings Cross prior to the respective banquets and in the immediate aftermath of a result that sent shockwaves around the football world.

      Such a call would certainly raise more than the odd eyebrow were it between Mourinho and Puel come Sunday... “Despite having already congratulated his counterpart at the final whistle, the Doc felt he should congratulate him further on the telephone.

      “The thing is, Tommy and Lawrie were very close, and perhaps you don't get managers as close these days, so it is probably hard for any modern supporter to understand how it could have happened.

      “Lawrie was well liked in the game anyway, but Tommy went out of his way to point out they had been a credit to Division Two and that he accepted, as he still does, that Southampton simply played better on the day.”

      Two months before, Thomas had gone down in the record books as the first ever reserve referee for an English League Cup Final, as back-up to the late Jack Taylor of Wolverhampton. Up until then the convention was to have reserve linesmen.


      Of Andre Marriner, who will be in charge this time around at Wembley, Thomas has less than fond memories: “Marriner made a terrible blunder in confusing England internationals Keiran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in an Arsenal versus Chelsea game not so long ago, and I still believe he and his team should not have been given another game for the remainder of that season.

      “How can you make a mistake like that between three of you? It baffles me. In sending off the wrong player, and not having any of the assistants intervene, an unforgivable error was made, and you would expect there to be consequences, or some kind of punishment, naturally.

      “Instead, of course, you found they were given another Premier League game the very next week!”

      Whenever you are lucky enough to be talking to the one and only Clive Thomas, the last thing you expect to hear is no comment, but that is what you get when you bring up the subject of his own League Cup Final and replay appointments, back in 1981.

      Maybe the rancour remains unresolved after a dispute over whether he was actually called a cheat by West Ham boss John Lyall for allowing a Liverpool goal despite Sammy Lee lying prone in an offside position (he definitely would not be, according to the Laws as they stand now) or whether Lyall had simply said he felt cheated.

      Who knows? Yet, perhaps predictably, there are other subjects Thomas is only too happy to expound upon... starting with the proposed sin bins which may be about to cross over from rugby, a sport which has always been close to this proud Welshman's heart.

      It is also a subject YATR's Keith Hackett has raised concerns over only recently.KHackett

      “It hurts me to see how much disrespect is tolerated and it is a constant theme that people ask me about, such as how Graham Poll could admit he allows players to insult him multiple times without acting upon it.

      “My own rule was, if it's a player you warn them, then a card. If it's someone from the bench I used to say, quite simply, any more and I will put you out of this ground.

      “Otherwise, once you have been undermined, you haven't just lost it for that game but for other games in future, because you failed to nip it in the bud.

      “I don't mind them showing their feelings, but when it comes to respect they must be under no illusions and be clear that you are the arbiter, the policeman if you like.”

      “Now, how can you police these proposed sin bins? Who's going to do that, especially as you go down the levels. Such great play is made by these international authorities about keeping the game basically the same on a mountain top as in a park or in a professional environment, but there will simply not be the bodies needed to enforce sin bins.

      “Surely we can avoid all this if referees go back to using your authority. Even when there is a language barrier you can calm things down, and I can even remember many a European fixture where I would find myself able to take the heat out of situations using body language!

      “We are changing far too many things in the name of making things easier or more acceptable for the player when, if you ask me, we already have all the tools we need for the job. Please leave the Laws alone!”

        Britain Football Soccer - Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League - Old Trafford - 19/11/16 Groundstaff tend to the pitch before the match Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

        A sincere thank you to all those unsung heroes - the football groundstaff.

        During my era of refereeing from the 1960s to the 90s I can remember at this time of the season ploughing through muddy conditions and regularly being called in on Friday afternoon or early Saturday to inspect a pitch somewhere.

        Some of us can remember that muddy field where the great George Best weaved his way through the mud to pause on the goal line and then tap the ball into the back of the net.

        If you visit the National Football Museum in Manchester you will see that iconic photo of the great Sir Tom Finney creating a wall of water as he slides and attempts to pass the ball.

        Nowadays I am amazed how far playing surface technology has moved with vast sums of money spent on the structural make up of the field.

        Undersoil heating is taken for granted and in the middle of winter we see regular watering, even at half-time in some stadiums.

        Then we see the bank of high powered halogen lights being wheeled out to aid the growth of the grass which, at some grounds, is weaved in to blend with plastic artificial grass.

        The credit, however, must go to those unsung heroes, the groundstaff and the head groundsmen.

        Their hours of hard work and dedication produce a playing surface that enables those skilful players to demonstrate their technical skills - and there are fewer occasions when our weekend is disrupted by a cancellation.

          Author: Alan Biggs

          Football Soccer Britain - Liverpool v West Ham United - Premier League - Anfield - 11/12/16 Referee Mark Clattenburg gets out of the way from Liverpool's Jordan Henderson Action Images via Reuters / Lee Smith Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

          English refereeing chiefs are under pressure to combat a crisis with a “transfer market” for referees potentially forcing them to look abroad.

          It is a predictable scenario long foreseen by You Are The Ref experts. Professional Game Match Officials are having to wake up to the threat - but will it be too late?

          Certainly, the drain of English talent from the Premier League shows no sign of slowing with Michael Oliver touted for a switch to Major League Soccer in America following Mark Clattenburg’s move to Saudi Arabia.

          Keith Hackett, who once tried to lure Pierluigi Collina to England, believes PGMOL will have to “go into the market” amid the depletion of the Select Group which he feels has only around five referees of consistently reliable standard in the top flight.

          The organisation may first have to conduct an emergency review of a modest pay structure which has already cost them its top official and makes them vulnerable to having more lured overseas.

          Select Group referees are understood to be on a basic of around £100,000 a year. With international commitments on top, Clattenburg was thought to be earning in the region of £200,000.

          The Saudi Football Federation has clearly topped that figure by some distance. Speculation suggests Clattenburg is earning at least £500,000 in becoming Saudi’s refereeing chief.

          For a referee at just 41 years of age and at his peak, Clattenburg’s departure represents a huge blow for the Premier League, just as Howard Webb’s retirement at 43 had been equally damaging.

          Imagine the fall-out if Oliver, rapidly developing into one of the world’s best,  were to be lost at 31. Fortunately for PGMOL, there is a strong union influence on MLS referees which would make such a move highly unlikely and it is extremely doubtful that the PRO organisation are actually pursing Oliver.

          However, approaches from across the globe are more probable than possible.  It is a nightmarish scenario that PGMOL has to react to if standards of officiating, already a subject of some concern, are not to plummet further.

          Hackett, England’s former head of referees, said: “It is not being wise after the event to say urgent action is required. My colleagues and myself have been pointing to the danger for a long time now.

          “PGMOL have tended not to allow their referees to officiate prestige one-off matches around the globe and you can now see how short-sighted that policy has been. There is now a global market for referees, just as with players.

          “It is not a threat. That is the reality. In any walk of life, and certainly in sport, the top talent is much sought after and in football it attracts big money offers.

          “Clearly, the pay ceiling in the Premier League is too low. It has to be increased as a starting point.”

          This and other pressing issues will be discussed on this week’s Ref Show featuring Chris Sutton and former referee Dean Mohareb.

            Goal-line Technology

            Goal-line technology is to be introduced in the Championship from the start of next season in a move welcomed by You Are The Ref. Clubs have agreed "in principle" to use goalline technology from the start of next season.

            Clubs agreed to the decision on Thursday and it will be presented at the EFL annual general meeting in June. Our experts have repeatedly called for it to be introduced and the move will see Hawk-eye technology installed at all Championship clubs in order to assist referees and their assistants.

            SimiLar technology has been in operation in the Premier League since the 2013/14 season and is also already utilised in the latter stages of the EFL Cup and the Sky Bet EFL Play-Offs.
            Keith Hackett said: "I'm really delighted to see this development. There is so much money riding on clubs getting to the Championship that having this proven system is a must."

              Mark Clattenburg is quitting his job as a Premier League official to become Saudi Arabia's new head of referees signing a one-year rolling contract. He is expected to leave before the next Premier League fixtures.

              Howard Webb, another former top-flight official, resigned as Saudi Arabia's head of refereeing 11 days ago.

              His new post will involve working with Saudi referees to improve performance and improve the set-up of the organisation, while he will also take charge of some league games.

              Speaking on a live broadcast on the Saudi Football Federation's Twitter page, Clattenburg said: "This is an important move forward. We have professional referees in the country that I am leaving, which has been a big positive.

              "One thing I'd like to do is work with the refereeing team and the president to make this happen so that it will be successful for many, many years to come."

              Keith Hackett in his daily column for the Telegraph offers his opinion.

                Stuart Attwell

                In a few weeks time, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body responsible for the laws of the game will consider the implementation of sin-bins on a trial basis. It would appear that trials might be considered at grassroots level, which frankly comes as a bit of a shock.

                This body appears to be unaware of the general shortage of grassroots referees around the world.
                It is long believed that in England alone, ten percent of our games do not have a qualified official in the middle. So many questions arise for the board to discuss before any implementation

                1. Will there be a sin-bin for each team?
                2. For what offences will a sin-bin sanction be applied?
                3. Will it replace the yellow card sanctions? If so, which ones?
                4. Can you be sent to the sin-bin on more than one occasion in a game?
                5. Who supervises the sin -bin?
                6. What happens if you commit an offence whilst in the sin-bin? Dissent, fight with another occupant etc.
                7. How big will the area be and where will it be situated?
                8. Will players who have been binned still have to pay a fine to local County FA's?
                9. Will the referee have a third coloured card to signal a sin-bin?
                10. How long is the punishment for a sin-bin offence?
                11. Does it increase if more than one player binned?
                12. Can occupants of the technical area be binned?

                What are your thoughts on this potential innovation? Does Junior Rugby Union operate sin-bins at grassroots level?

                  Author: Alan Biggs


                  Football's lawmakers are set to readjust a ruling that has been blissfully ignored by the majority of football fans but has driven aficionados of refereeing to distraction.

                  That’s because one of the laws of the game is being blatantly broken in just about every game you see. And going unchecked by match officials.

                  When the International Football Association Board allowed the ball to be passed back from the kick-off from the start of this season, hardly an eyelid was batted. Most fans greeted it with a shrug of the shoulder.

                  What they failed to consider, and crucially the lawmakers themselves somehow failed to factor in, is that passing the ball back is almost physically impossible to achieve without breaking the existing law that all players must stand in their own half of the field at kick-off.

                  The tweaking of Law 8 actually meant that it was being flouted.

                  Now You Are The Ref understands that the IFAB, at its upcoming annual meeting in March, is likely to make another tweak to allow one player (the player taking the kick-off) to stray across the halfway line into the opposition half.

                  Keith Hackett comments: “I’m surprised there was even a change to Law 8. Was it really necessary? Surely there were more important considerations.

                  “It has created a lot of confusion and much comment within refereeing circles. Barely a day goes by without me receiving an email on this.

                  “Don’t forget that a change of law like this applies across the whole game. Referees at all levels have been faced with the technicality that, to apply the law correctly, they would have to order a retake of virtually every kick-off.

                  “Can you imagine the irritation and annoyance of players, managers and spectators if they actually did this?”

                  Another valid criticism of the Law 8 tweak might be that it has been, in every sense, a backwards move rather than one designed to bring the game forward and make it more exciting.

                  Allowing the ball to be passed back has seen nearly all games start in a sedate, sterile and arguably negative fashion. The focus has been on ball retention whereas some teams might attempt to be more adventurous in the past.

                  Hackett added: “Football seems to have forgotten it is in the entertainment industry.”

                    Football Soccer - Atletico Nacional v Kashima Antlers - FIFA Club World Cup Semi Final - Suita City Football Stadium, Osaka, Japan - 14/12/16 Referee Viktor Kassai awards a penalty to Kashima Antlers Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

                    Where there is a will, it is amazing the progress that can be made.

                    I was delighted to read that David Elleray, as technical director of the International Football Association Board, has announced that the use of the Video Assistant Referee may be introduced before the next World Cup in Russia.

                    I compliment him on the work he's doing to achieve this. For instance, I'm aware of his recent visit to the United States and Mexico, presumably to monitor progress and update these countries on the system.

                    It would appear that the live trials are making good progress. With France, Germany and Mexico keen to test the system themselves, I hope to see its introduction earlier than the two years previously forecast.

                    Shortly the IFAB will be meeting in order to be updated on the VAR.

                    Meanwhile, the IFAB annual meeting will be asked to extend the “Modifications” section of the Laws of the Game to give national football associations more freedom and responsibility to modify the organisational Laws, e.g. number of substitutions and length of play, to assist with the development of their domestic football by promoting and encouraging more people to take part in the game.

                    VAR - Ismail Elfath

                    National Football Associations will be permitted to decide at which levels the modifications are applied in their domestic football, except for competitions involving the first team of clubs in the top league and senior ‘A’ international teams.

                    Additionally, as part of “Modifications”, the proposal to allow temporary dismissals (sin bins) in youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football for yellow card offences will be considered following tests in UEFA’s development competitions over the last three years.

                    On the topic of video assistant referees (VARs), the AGM will receive updates on the completion of the first phase of experiments including reports from the workshops held and more than 20 test matches organised to test the VAR protocols which were approved one year ago.

                    The meeting will receive detailed information on the key learning areas which will be incorporated into the ‘live’ experiments starting in almost 20 competitions around the world in 2017.

                      Britain Football Soccer - Sutton United v Leeds United - FA Cup Fourth Round - The Borough Sports Ground - 29/1/17 Sutton United players celebrate at the end of the match Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

                      Let me join the congratulations to Lincoln City, Sutton United and Oxford United for producing terrific FA Cup upsets. And Wycombe too for coming very close to winning at Tottenham.

                      However, despite these results, the Cup is being tarnished by clubs higher up the scale failing to play anything like their first teams. Wholesale changes are an insult to this great competition.

                      What do supporters who travel great distances to watch their teams think when they listen to the announcer blast out a set of unfamiliar names?

                      It's a little bit like paying a price to watch, say, Coldplay at a concert and when you turn up it's a Coldplay tribute band walking out onto the stage.

                      Oh! You will get the usual comments by the managers that it's squad rotation and the right thing to do. They must think fans are stupid.

                      So the people running this historic tournament need to take action by fining those clubs who play understrength teams. It is an easy process to carry out by studying the team selections over the previous ten weeks.

                      Looking ahead, the one thing that I think would make a difference is rewarding the winners with the coveted fourth place Champions League spot, instead of it being for being fourth in the Premier League.

                      The people at the Football Association have inherited the responsibility of guardianship of this great Cup.

                      They need to act before it slips even further down the pecking order and is sunk into oblivion by the many managers and players, some from overseas, who appear not to have any regard for upholding our great traditions.

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