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keith hackett

    Alex Griffiths talks to Roger Dilkes (Football League/PL, 1983/1997) about the refereeing giant whose shoulders he was honoured to stand upon.

    The very first burning question for Roger had to be: when he surveilled the ranks of top officials and their chosen professions in the days long before professional referees, did he not feel daunted when he saw so many were coppers, if not teachers, as was the case with the man he set out to emulate? “Not in the slightest!” comes the reply.

    “I just didn't look at it like that, coming as I did from HR training. I felt I had lots of transferable interpersonal skills plus the ability to communicate, both through my work and having played myself.

    “There's no denying, however, that George's job as a head teacher stood him in good stead. He had the people skills, a good manner and people working for him, which helps you relate to what we used to call linesmen in those days...”

    What else made Courtney stand out among what was a talented bunch in Hackett, Thomas, Midgeley and Willis, to name but four?

    “He looked the part for a start, always in short sleeves. From experience he used his humour at just the right times and kept it on the field of play, and, even then, more so with the players as opposed to his assistants.

    “That group of rivals all got on very well, in fact, and the late Pat Partridge could be included even if he was slightly older. Of course he was from the same neck of the woods as Courtney and Willis, up there in the North-East, too.

    “As well as being mentored and supported by George I acted as his linesman and the instructions he would give beforehand were always very precise and only served to heighten his authority.”
    Courtney certainly prided himself on his fitness, did he not? “Yes,” Dilkes readily confirms. “He used to play tennis and golf to a high standard and I remember one particular occasion in Istanbul when he gave the hotel pro a game of tennis prior to a Galatasaray versus Austria Vienna match.”

    Who won? “Oh, I'm sure George let the pro win, simply because he did not feel he should exert himself so close to such a big appointment... he was that professional! He had a good go, all the same, as I recall.”
    Hang on, must this tribute to Courtney face a steward's enquiry, given that most people and their idol have an age gap comfortably bigger than Roger's and George's... is Dilkes just trying to come off as younger than he really is here?

    “Not guilty! He was on the list nearly ten years before I was, and I can't overstate what a positive influence he had on me.

    “In terms of motivation to succeed that really was what he was all about, and again those were key skills he brought with him from teaching.

    “Consistency was his trademark, if you like: you knew what you were getting, whatever the standard of the game might be. And he kept going long after retirement.”
    Consistency does appear to have been Courtney's legacy, so, in closing, how did he manage to loom so large in the Dilkes story, in practical terms?

    “It was not just me, but many others who he supported along the way. He simply seemed to know how to get the best out of you, and after a pep talk from him you felt able to take on any game.

    “His mentoring allowed me to go into games with no qualms or any hint of negativity whatsoever, and for that boost in confidence I will always remain grateful.”

    Roger Dilkes

    *Born 19/8/1948 in Lancashire

    *Made FL list as linesman in 1980, as referee in 1983 (aged 34) and PL as referee in its inaugural season, 1992

    *Ran the line for FA Cup Semi-Final 1984, Watford (1) Plymouth (0)

    *Refereed 1988 FA Trophy Final & replay: Enfield (0) (3) Telford (0) (2)

    *Refereed 1989 Women’s FA Cup Final, Leasowe Pacific (3) Friends of Fulham (2)

    *Refereed 1991 Upton Park Cup Final in St Helier, Jersey: Sporting Academics (3) Northerners (1)

    *Reserve referee (to Philip Don) at 1993 FA Cup Final

    *Refereed FA Cup Semi-Final 1994, Chelsea (2) Luton Town (0)

    *Refereed League Cup Semi-Final 1996, second leg: Leeds United (3) Birmingham City (0)

    *Retired 1997 after Coventry City (1) Derby County (2)

    *Assessor and referee coach until 2012

    George Courtney MBE

    *Born Spennymoor, County Durham, 4/6/1941

    *Made FL list in 1974, aged 33

    *FIFA ref 1977-91

    *Refereed Northern League Cup Final at age of 30

    *Refereed FA Cup Final 1980: Arsenal (0) West Ham United (1), including the momentous decision to caution Arsenal's Willie Young for an example of the erroneously named 'professional foul'

    *Refereed UEFA Cup Final 1982, second leg, in Hamburg, West Germany: SV Hamburg (0) IFK Gothenburg (3). IFKG, managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson, won 4-0 on aggregate

    *Refereed League Cup Final 1983: Manchester United (1) Liverpool (2) aet

    *Refereed Euro 84 Semi-Final in Lyon, France: Spain (6) Denmark (5) on penalties

    *Refereed European Cup Winners Cup Final, 1989, in Bern, Switzerland: Barcelona (2) Sampdoria (0)

    *Refereed two games at World Cup 1986 in Mexico, inc 3rd place match, France (4) Belgium (2) aet

    *Refereed two games at World Cup 1990 in Italy, inc Italy (2) Uruguay (0) in last 16

    *Refereed League Cup Final 1992 (only referee to be honoured twice with this appointment): Manchester United (1) Nottingham Forest (0)

    *Retired in 1992 after Division 2 play-off final, Blackburn (1) Leicester (0), having awarded the penalty scored by Mike Newell to gain promotion to the inaugural Premier League for 6th-placed Rovers

    *Served as Director of Community Projects at Middlesbrough FC

    *Served as Northern League President

      MARTIN ATKINSON produced a master class refereeing performance today  in what was always going to be a challenging game to officiate. This was the refereeing performance of the season.

      His game reading was first class, ensuring that he was well positioned when making his decisions. He used tempo management, judging when to intervene and in a period in the second half when it was beginning to bubble he put his foot on the ball, punishing those small fouls to slow things down and demonstrate to everyone that he was in control.

      The award of a penalty kick to Chelsea saw Martin Atkinson hesitate despite a strong and accurate flag from his assistant Hussin. The decision was spot on and I just wondered if The Football Association were operating below the radar with a Video Assistant referee.

      Atkinson and the game reaped the rewards of the way Atkinson had sensibly kept his cards in his pocket, his body language and facial expressions were calm and respectful of the pressure the players were under.

      Take a bow Martin Atkinson and your team for the superb way you and your colleagues have controlled this game and produced the best refereeing performance of the season!

        I am clear that Match Officials at all levels of Football should have a thorough knowledge of the Laws of the game. That is why since 1981 I have worked with the iconic Master of Movement artist Paul Trevillion producing hundreds of strips answering questions in the Laws Of The Game.

        However in the heat of the battle top referee Keith Stroud recently awarded an indirect free kick when encroachment at the taking of a penalty kick took place and the goal having been scored was disallowed. The law is clear in that in this situation the penalty kick should be retaken. However after discussion with his colleagues the referee went with the advice offered by one of his assistant referees and incorrectly awarded an indirect free kick.

        The error hit the headlines and whilst it impacted on the score it did not impact on the result. I have no doubt that a suspension was appropriate and for me three games should be sufficient. However at such an important part of the season Keith Stroud has apparently been served with a 28 day suspension and his colleagues 14 days.

        This frankly is draconian and means that Keith might be punished by a loss of five or more games. When I look at the recent punishments that are handed out to managers it appears to me that match officials are soft targets who will not say anything.

        So I will suggest to the Football Association that they need to look again at how they treat officials fairly for all please.

          The IFAB did a brilliant job when they clarified the law with regards to foul challenges. In an effort to gain more consistency they went to the trouble of defining what was a careless; reckless and reckless with excessive force challenge and the appropriate punishment

          A Careless challenge is penalised with a free kick.
          A Reckless Challenge is punished with a free kick and a yellow card.
          A Reckless Challenge with excessive force that endangers the safety of an opponent is punished with a free kick and red card.

          Referees have a duty to apply the law in a correct and consistent manner. Sometimes we attempt to cover for the lack of appropriate action by a referee by saying that he did not send a player off because it is a local derby or that entertainment and keeping 22 players on the field of play is so important.

          But referees are appointed to control proceedings and to be consistent in their application of the law. Anthony Taylor is a good referee but failed in the Merseyside derby to dismiss Ross Barkley and Ashley Williams of Everton. Barkley's challenge was reckless with excessive force, he was issued a yellow card which is the incorrect application of the law. A player has a duty of care towards his opponent, Barkley failed to apply that and because he was not sanctioned for his first reckless challenge, he decided that he could take matters into his own hands.

          Later we saw Williams go over the top and into his opponent and was fortunate that the over tolerant Taylor did not show him a red card.

          So to you referees out there, please apply the law and the guidelines clearly defined by the IFAB,
          who offer further clarification by defining challenges in this manner.

          Careless is when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution. A free kick is sufficient punishment.

          Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and MUST be cautioned.

          Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and endangers the safety of an opponent and MUST be sent off

          There can be no doubt that Barkley and Williams should have both received red cards had Anthony Taylor applied the law correctly. That said, this particular referee has many positive aspects to his style of officiating. He remains calm when the going gets tough, and his communication, movement and positioning are terrific.

          But in the words of former Premier League referee Jeff Winter, when talking to his colleague Mike Riley some years ago, he said: "Hey Bonny lad that too soft you need to get tougher."

          I would offer the same advice using Jeff's words to Anthony.

            Author: Alan Biggs

            The potential powderkeg of already pressurised referees having to publicly view replays worries You Are The Ref experts in the wake of this week’s impressive trial of the Video Assistant Referee.

            Interestingly, neither of the overhauled decisions in the France v Spain friendly was the final verdict of the match referee who based his calls on the view of an experienced off-field official in front of a bank of monitors. Both were correct and the system was seen to work very effectively – and speedily - in this case.

            And yet the process would have been different and involve a longer time lag had the system favoured by two leading referee figures been in operation.

            Both David Elleray, technical director of the International Football Association Board, and Mike Riley, head of England’s officials, would prefer the match referee to have the final say by reviewing a video.

            This would most likely involve him running to check a touchline monitor. Whereas the Stade de France experiment worked well without subjecting the match officials to an extra burden.

            YATR’s Keith Hackett applauds both Elleray and Riley for joining a complex debate in which even experts in the field are bound to disagree on implementation given the complexities involved.

            Today Hackett points out the pitfalls of their argument. He said: “It’s good to see views being expressed. This must be the Premier League’s and David Elleray’s view on how the system should operate.

            “My concern is that given their positions I would have thought they would await the outcome of all the current trials before attempting to set the boundaries.

            “If they are of the opinion that the referee should view a screen I see the benefit of this. However, they appear not to be considering the what ifs.”

            Hackett added: “Let’s consider a future game where an offence has taken place and the referee has pointed for a penalty kick and issued a yellow card to the defender. The VAR intervenes and says the offence took place outside the penalty area.”

            “You should then rescind the penalty kick and award a free-kick outside the penalty area and send off the defender for DOGSO.

            “If the referee is operating Mike Riley’s procedure he’s going to take a look at the screen. He moves to a position near the touchline to view a monitor.

            “There is no doubt that he will be surrounded by players and club officials all wanting to view the screen.

            “Then suppose whilst the referee is off the field an argument takes place resulting in a player striking an opponent. This then sparks a mass confrontation near the penalty area with no officials in the vicinity and players decide to take matters into their own hands. It is not so far-fetched or hard to imagine.

            “The danger is that by moving away from the scene the referee’s authority will be lost in a second. Surely the way to do this is like Rugby Union and operate the replay on a big stadium screen so that we can all be informed of what has taken place and what action needs to be taken.

            “The international game this week demonstrated to me how the system can operate and how quickly we can get to the correct decision. The Integrity of the game and of the referee were both upheld and the correct outcomes achieved.

            “We are in the experimental stage of a major change in our game. Surely the appropriate review and research needs to be conducted in these experimental games before any conclusions are determined.”

            Source: ESPNFC

              Author: Alan Biggs

              The ball hit the back of the net and the goal was – correctly – ruled out less than a minute later. A mere 40 seconds later, in fact. Just what champions of video technology had promised and wanted.

              And it was one of two demonstrations in the latest high-profile trial of the Video Assistant Referee system that major mistakes can be corrected without – crucially – creating or fuelling controversy. Which, of course, it is being introduced to eliminate.

              However, there is a warning that the successful experiment in this week’s France-Spain friendly may be followed by a few bumps and bruises before the innovation is perfected.

              While speed is of the essence to make it work acceptably in football, You Are The Ref’s Keith Hackett cautions that in some instances it may not always be possible to operate the system so swiftly.The Stade de France saw two key decisions go against the home nation as the VAR enabled referee Felix Swayer to disallow a given goal from Antoine Griezman, with a team mate shown to be offside in the build up, and to allow Spain’s second goal of a 2-0 win after an assistant referee had flagged for offside. The latter took just 40 seconds to achieve from start to finish. Commendably, France manager Didier Deschamps still welcomed video refereeing for arriving at the right decision in each case.

              Hackett, a supporter of VARs but wary of how they will be operated, said: “It’s good to see that they can be put to use without the flow of the game being unduly disrupted. And it’s refreshing that players and managers can accept such decision-making without argument.

              “But there are situations where the referee and the VAR will need more time than this. I’m referring mainly to off-the-ball incidents.

              “It’s not just about determining an offence. The right player has to be identified before action can be taken.

              “That will be even more time-consuming in the case of a mass confrontation where two or more players have to be identified.”

               

                Since the announcement that the IFAB would be experimenting at grassroots level with the use of the sin bins many visitors to our website have sought clarification on how this would operate. Clearly the various associations around the world will determine where and in which competitions the use of sin bins will be allowed.

                I share with you below the recent publication by the IFAB which goes a long way to create the foundation for this experiment which will certainly impact on the game in the years to come.

                Laws of the Game 2017/18 - Guidelines for Temporary dismissals (sin bins)

                Reference to temporary dismissals (sin bins) for all or some cautions/yellow cards (YCs) in youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football, subject to the approval of the competition’s national FA, confederation or FIFA, whichever is appropriate.

                Reference to temporary dismissals is found in the Laws of the Game 2017/18: Law 5 – The Referee (Powers and duties):

                Disciplinary action

                The referee has the power to show yellow or red cards and, where competition rules permit, temporarily dismiss a player, from entering the field at the start of the match until after the match has ended, including during the half-time interval, extra time and kicks from the penalty mark

                A temporary dismissal is when a player commits a cautionable (YC) offence and is punished by an immediate ‘suspension’ from participating in the next part of that match. The philosophy is that an ‘instant punishment’ can have a significant and immediate positive influence on the behaviour of the offending player and, potentially, the player’s team.

                The national FA, confederation or FIFA, should approve (for publication in the competition rules) a temporary dismissal protocol within the following guidelines:

                Players only

                • Temporary dismissals apply to all players (including goalkeepers) but not for cautionable offences (YCs) committed by a substitute or substituted player

                Referee’s signal

                • The referee will indicate a temporary dismissal by showing a yellow card (YC) and then clearly pointing with both arms to the temporary dismissal area (usually the player’s technical area)

                The temporary dismissal period

                • The length of the temporary dismissal is the same for all offences
                • The length of the temporary dismissal should be between 10-15% of the total playing time (e.g. 10 minutes in a 90-minute match; 8 minutes in an 80-minute match)
                • The temporary dismissal period begins when play restarts after the player has left the field of play
                • The referee should include in the temporary dismissal period any time ‘lost’ for a stoppage for which ‘additional time’ will be allowed at the end of the half (e.g. substitution, injury etc...)
                • Competitions must decide who will help the referee time the dismissal period –
                • It could be the responsibility of the 4th official, or neutral assistant referee conversely it could be a team official
                • Once the temporary dismissal period has been completed, the player can return from the touchline with the referee’s permission, which can be given while the ball is in play
                • The referee has the final decision as to when the player can return
                • A temporarily dismissed player can not be substituted until the end of the used all its permitted substitutes)
                • If a temporary dismissal period has not been completed at the end of the first half (or the end of the second half when extra time is to be played) the remaining part of the temporary dismissal period is served from the start of the second half (start of extra time)
                • A player who is still serving a temporary dismissal at the end of the match is permitted to take part in Kicks from the Penalty Mark (penalties)

                Temporary dismissal area

                • A temporarily dismissed player should remain within the technical area (where one exists) or with the team’s coach/technical staff, unless ‘warming up’ (under the same conditions as a substitute)

                Offences before/during/after a temporary dismissal

                • A temporarily dismissed player who commits a cautionable (YC) or sending-off (RC) offence during their temporary dismissal period will take no further part in the match and may not be replaced or substituted

                Further disciplinary action

                • Competitions/national FAs will decide if temporary dismissals must be reported to the appropriate authorities and whether any further disciplinary action may be taken e.g. suspension for accumulating a number of temporary dismissals, as with cautions (YCs)

                Temporary dismissal systems

                A competition may use one of the following temporary dismissal systems:

                - System A - for all cautions (YCs)
                - System B - for some but not all cautions (YC)

                System A – temporary dismissal for all cautions (YCs)

                • All cautions (YCs) are punished with a temporary dismissal
                • A player who commits a 2nd caution (YC) in the same match:

                - will receive a second temporary dismissal and then takes no further part in the match

                - may be replaced by a substitute at the end of the second temporary dismissal period if the player’s team has not used its maximum number of substitutes (this is because the team has already been ‘punished’ by playing without that player for 2 x temporary dismissal periods)

                System B – temporary dismissal for some but not all cautions (YCs)*

                • A pre-defined list of cautionable (YC) offences will be punished by a temporary dismissal
                • All other cautionable offences are punished with a caution (YC)
                • A player who has been temporarily dismissed and then receives a caution (YC) continues playing
                • A player who has received a caution (YC) and then receives a temporary dismissal can continue playing after the end of the temporary dismissal period
                • A player who receives a second temporary dismissal in the same match will serve thetemporary dismissal and then takes no further part in the match. The player may be replaced by a substitute at the end of the second temporary dismissal period if the player’s team has not used its maximum number of substitutes
                • A player who receives a second caution (YC) in the same match will be sent off and takes no further part in the match and may not be replaced/substituted

                *Some competitions may find it valuable to use temporary dismissals only for cautions (YCs) for offence relating to ‘inappropriate’ behaviour, e.g.

                • Simulation
                • Deliberately delayed the opposing team’s restart of the match
                • Dissent or verbal gestures
                • Stopping a promising attack by holding, pulling, pushing or handball
                • Kicker illegally feinting at a penalty kick

                Frequently asked questions about temporary dismissals (FAQ's)

                What offences do temporary dismissals apply to?

                • Temporary dismissals are only for cautions (YCs)
                • Competitions may use temporary dismissals for all YCs or just some (usually those relating to unfair behaviour) – see System B (above)

                Who do temporary dismissals apply to?

                • Temporary dismissals only apply to players (including goalkeepers) – they are not used for substitutes, substituted players or team officials

                Are temporarily dismissals reported to the appropriate authority?

                • The national FA will decide if temporary dismissals must be reported after the match and if any further action results e.g. suspension for a number of temporary dismissals (as with YCs)

                How does the referee signal a temporary dismissal?

                • The referee signals a temporary dismissal by showing the yellow card (YC) and then clearly pointing with both arms to the temporary dismissal area (usually the player’s technical area)

                How long does the temporary dismissal last?

                • The temporary dismissal period:

                - is the same for all offences

                - should be between 10-15% of the total playing time (e.g. 10 minutes in a 90-minute match; 8 minutes in an 80-minute match)

                - begins when play restarts after the player has left the field of play

                - will include any time ‘lost’ for a stoppage for which ‘additional time’ will be allowed at the end of the half

                • Competitions must decide who will help the referee time the dismissal period e.g. delegate, 4th official or neutral assistant referee; conversely it could be a team official. What happens if the half ends and the temporary dismissal period has not been completed?
                • If a player’s temporary dismissal period is not over at the end of the first half, the remaining time is served from the start of the second half (this is the same at the end of the match if extra time is to be played)
                • If a player’s temporary dismissal period is not over at the end of the match, the player is permitted to take part in Kicks from the Penalty Mark (penalties)

                Where does the temporarily dismissed player go?

                • A temporarily dismissed player should stay in the team’s technical area; if there is no technical area the player should stay with the team’s coach/technical staff (unless warming up)

                Can a temporarily dismissed player warm up?

                • For reasons of injury prevention, a temporarily dismissed player is allow to warm up as if he/she were a substitute

                When can the temporarily dismissed player return?

                • Once the temporary dismissal period has been completed, the player can return from the touchline with the referee’s permission, which can be while the ball is in play

                Can a temporarily dismissed player be substituted?

                • A temporarily dismissed player can only be substituted at the end of their temporarily dismissal period. However, he/she can not be substituted if:
                  • it is the player’s second temporary dismissal
                  • the team has already used all its permitted substitutes

                What happens if a temporarily dismissed player commits another offence during a temporary dismissal?

                • A temporarily dismissed player who commits a caution (YC) or sending-off/red card (RC) offence during their temporary dismissal period is not allowed to play again in the match and may not be replaced or substituted

                  The English Premier League is one of the best, if not the best, competition in world football. Its nearest challengers would be La Liga and the Bundesliga, both of course producing top quality referees over many years.

                  Premier League Games are watched in over 211 territories beamed live around the world thanks to the spectacular television coverage. The minimum twenty-two cameras at each game and the latest eye-in-the-sky piece of technology give viewers wonderful images that highlight the skill sets of the players.

                  These cameras expose the frailties of players happy to go to ground easily in order to win a free kick or penalty kick. Instant replays and the use of the super slow-mo provide information to the viewer that currently is not available to the team of match officials. Goal line technology has delivered terrific results and makes life for the referee that much easier.

                  Ariel challenges sometimes result in the player going to ground feigning injury attempting to get opponents into trouble. Television detects these negative aspects of a player’s performance.

                  Officiating at the top level is so much more difficult than it used to be when I was an active referee in those early years of the formation of the Premier League. It was evident that something had to be done and the response was to set up a cadre of professional match officials.

                  Referee coaching, performance analysis and appropriate sports science contributed in a positive manner to prepare the match officials to meet the increasing demands placed upon them.

                  The outcome was a step change in the on-field performance of our officials with the likes of Poll, Webb, Halsey, Bennett, Durkin and Clattenburg receiving top class appointments at the very top echelon of the world game after delivering on a regular basis quality performances on the Premier League and in Europe

                  The role of the PGMOL management team is to prepare this cadre of officials to deliver the very best performances on the field week-in week-out. They have to monitor the physical and mental ability to deal with the demands of a Premier League game. It is beyond belief that one of our up and coming top officials was expected to produce a performance of quality in last weekend’s Manchester City v Liverpool game.

                  On the Monday he officiated Chelsea v Manchester United, the following Thursday he was officiating a top UEFA Europa League game between Besiktas and Olympiakos. Following a long flight returning to England on Friday he had one day to recover before driving to Manchester for his Premier League appointment. This young and fit referee can cope with the physical demands of the game. However, mental fatigue drains away your concentration and awareness requirements to cope with three games in such a tight time frame.

                  My colleagues have with some sadness reported on many occasions over the last three years of the decline in refereeing standards. I have along with my colleague and former Premier League referee Mark Halsey received criticism of what is seen as our negative approach to our former colleagues. However, Mark and I have nearly three quarters of a century of active involvement in officiating, both of us representing our country at FIFA level.

                  We therefore have a level of expertise in refereeing that we openly share with everyone. By offering our opinions up and coming referees can avoid the pitfalls that we are seeing our referees fall into on a regular basis.

                  All we want to see is England providing and producing top quality officiating and for young referees to be afforded the opportunity to climb the ladder of success and perhaps become FIFA Referees through having a greater understanding of what is right and what is wrong.

                  Someone at the Premier League and the PGMOL needs to read the excellent article in The Times following Sunday’s big game at the Etihad and the comments of the Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Here is the article:

                  He would not comment on specific incidents, but it is clear that the Catalan, who has expressed dismay at the levels of officiating in England before this season, is unhappy with a number of decisions from referees this term.

                  “You know my opinion about the referees,” he said. “My advice to them is that they have to speak to each other and they have to sit down on the table and review and talk urgently to make this sport better.

                  “What happened this season is something I have never seen in my life? They have to sit and analyse why this amount of things happen, not [only] in Manchester City games, but in all the games.”

                  Klopp thought that Oliver could have dismissed Otamendi for catching Mané.

                  “It could have been a red card around Sadio’s situation, he was away and Otamendi could catch him,” Klopp said.

                  The sad thing is that I share his view. Our referees are being let down by the PGMOL who are failing to offer appropriate coaching advice to our young referees. Michael Oliver has huge potential similar to that of Webb and Clattenburg in the past. However, he needs to understand that he is not the finished article.

                  He threw caution to the wind in the way he officiated last Monday’s encounter between Chelsea v Manchester United. He puts his control at risk by not penalising foul challenges but applying advantage, leaving players on the ground wondering why they are not being protected.

                  Then, in the Manchester City v Liverpool game, he took the same risky approach allowing the game to run almost out of control. He appeared to be drawn into the occasion. If Michael Oliver had put his foot on the ball and slowed things down his authority and control would have been raised.

                  There was a time in both games that tempo management needed to be applied. Find those fouls, Michael, reduce the application of advantage, slow things down so that players understand that you are in full control.

                  Let them know that you will protect them and not allow reckless challenges to go unpunished. Pep Guardiola is right, the referees need to start to act in a professional manner and start to operate as a team in a consistent manner. If grappling is to be punished then it cannot be Mike Dean left alone to try to bring players back into line.

                  The PGMOL officials need to meet up on a weekly basis to review their performances by use of the video and to discuss how they as a group can avoid errors and deliver better and more consistent officiating to the Premier League. They should include the assistant referees because some of the poor officiating is down to poor teamwork.

                  The PGMOL are short of quality officials and I say again that they need to sort themselves out and overcome the current problems.The current crop of officials - some have passed their sell by date - is on the decline with week-in week-out inconsistent performances resulting in the decline in the standard of English officiating.

                  Someone in authority needs to take note of Pep Guardiola’s comments and act.

                    Television cameras at the Chelsea v Manchester United FA Cup game picked up the deliberate stamp by United’s Marcos Rojo on Eden Hazard.

                    Referee Michael Oliver, who was having a game to forget, took no action and we were left with the impression that he and his colleagues had failed to see this red card offence. This came fast upon the retrospective action taken against Bournemouth player Tyrone Mings for his deliberate stamp on Ibrahimovic of Manchester United.

                    Therefore, it seemed relatively safe to assume that Rojo would also find himself facing punishment on review by the Football Association.  So I was shocked to learn that Rojo had escaped action from the disciplinary department.

                    The explanation from the FA is that the regulations do not allow any form of retrospective action if the referee, when questioned, states that he has seen the offence.

                    So Michael Oliver, if you are saying that you witnessed the stamp then my question to you is this: Why did you allow such an act to go unpunished?

                    And this to the panel of three former referees: If you decided that no offence had taken place then you need to revise and update your knowledge on the Laws of the Game.It is evident that the procedure is flawed. Under current FIFA regulations the matter is closed if the referee indicates he has seen the incident. But it is bad for the image of the game when an act of violence is allowed to go unpunished in this way.

                     

                      Author: Alan Biggs

                      Football’s drive towards video refereeing has been given a hugely ironic twist by a week that has seen one of the greatest dramas ever enacted in the game we all love.

                      Had the so-called “beautiful game” been kept sacrosanct, Barcelona would never have accomplished their incredible 6-1 comeback victory over PSG for a 6-5 aggregate win in the Champions League.

                      The world leapt from its armchair and television presenters sprang from their desks in celebration as Barcelona achieved the virtually impossible with three late goals from the 88th minute.

                      Yet one of them was delivered courtesy of a blatant dive from Luis Suarez whose cheating antics to win a penalty would otherwise have been condemned the world over. And rightly so. No-one wants to strip away the romance of the night, of course. But had a Video Assistant Referee ruled on the incident the outcome and the atmosphere would have been very different.

                      In the majority of cases, we all want to see justice done and You Are The Ref’s Keith Hackett today applauds David Elleray for opening up a debate on the way VARs are to be operated.

                      “I’m delighted to see some words from David on this because it’s the gateway for plenty more discussion that I feel is needed,” said Hackett, responding to the technical director of the International Football Association Board.

                      “I still have some concerns about how the system will operate. It’s vital that it’s rapid and doesn’t unduly interrupt the momentum of the game but, of course, it has to be accurate.”

                      The former head of England’s referees itemises his major concerns as “weak refereeing”, with officials too often going for the soft option of a review, and “not being willing to apply an advantage.”

                      Elleray himself admits video refereeing on major incidents “is not a panacea.” Indeed, it’s possible to call a decision wrongly while looking at replays in slow motion, as many a television pundit knows to his or her embarrassment. And sometimes experienced referees disagree even after multiple viewings, as has been the case among YATR experts on isolated occasions.

                      Hackett makes this telling point: “Consider the review of an offside decision where a goal has been scored. The difficulty while looking at a screen is the angle of the camera to the offside line. I’ve seen many cases where I would have ruled a goal offside only for Prozone to demonstrate that it was actually onside.

                      “However, VARs will definitely provide more accurate decision-making when it comes to interfering with an opponent and gaining an advantage.

                      “Denial of a goal scoring opportunity is another key area of usage. My concern is where a DOGSO offence takes place but the referee does not blow his whistle because he doesn’t feel at the time that the criteria has been fulfilled – while the VAR sees that it has.

                      “Does the VAR immediately advise the referee to stop the game?”

                      Elleray appears to indicate that all reviews will be referee-led and that the official in the middle will call for a review. Hence Hackett’s fear about referees going safety-first.

                      “Weak refereeing is the risk,” he adds. “In certain situations referees will be deterred from playing advantage which is one of the great spectacles of the game, leading to many a great goal and much appreciation from the attacking team.

                      “But it’s good to start talking about all these aspects, as David Elleray has begun to do. I hope that the trials will expose some of these concerns and that there will be further clarification as a result.”

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