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you are the ref

    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

      Author: Alan Biggs

      This season has seen a spate of incidents of players or managers either manhandling or threatening match officials. Not one of them has been treated as severely as Keith Stroud, the referee effectively banned for the rest of the campaign.

      This was for a mistake. A bad mistake. But no-one was endangered. The spirit of the game was untarnished and its reputation unharmed. Compare Stroud's unfortunate aberration with the behaviour of some of the game's participants - and the way the Football Association has treated them with a relative slap of the wrist.

      Will the "punishment" of the latest offender, Hartlepool's Liam Donnelly, be any different?

      Donnelly chased down referee Dean Whitestone at Leyton Orient on Monday. He was cautioned but then squared up to the referee before being sent off. Previous penalties this season suggest he will receive an extra suspension of only up to another three matches.

      That's what Aston Villa's Leandro Bacuna was given for shoving an assistant referee. It doubled his three-match ban for the sending off - but was it enough? Blackburn's Hope Akpan received only ONE extra game for pushing a referee and being sent off.

      Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could consider himself fortunate that he was merely removed from the touchline - for four matches - for laying hands on a fourth official. Keith Stroud's "crime" bears no comparison. He had a brainstorm that meant he failed to apply the laws of the game in the penalty fiasco at Newcastle early this month.

      There has to be accountability and You Are The Ref experts have no complaints over a suspension. But 28 days? Up to eight matches missed? Ending his season and forcing him to stew on his mistake for an entire summer?

      Stroud also carried the can for the other three match officials, also culpable but suspended for just 14 days.

      YATR's Dean Mohareb has spoken out along with other members of the team.

      "Keith's treatment is unbelievable compared to suspensions handed to players and managers," said Mohareb.

      "When is the game going to protect officials?

      "They are an easy target as they won't stand up on these matters for fear of reprisals."

      Keith Hackett said: "The FA is all shout and no action. I thought at the start of the season, with the emphasis on dissent, that they were going to really clamp down on physical abuse of officials.

      "Where is the Respect campaign?

      "What evidence do they have for supporting grassroots officials when unacceptable behaviour in the professional game is allowed to go unchecked?"

      More discussion on these issues can be found in this week's Ref Show.

        When it comes to big decisions, they do not come bigger than awarding a penalty kick.

        A referee cannot guess. That unfortunately appears to have resulted in Leicester City's undoing in the Champions League.

        They are 1-0 down after the first leg of their quarter final with Atletico Madrid as a result of a poor decision. This is the very type of call that can be resolved by the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee.

        Last week in the A League in Australia the system in use came to the rescue of a referee who was able to clarify an incident with the VAR and point to the mark.

        Referee Jonas Eriksson is one of UEFA's top operators so it is disappointing that he appeared to make a guess on this occasion  and got it spectacularly wrong.

        Where were his colleagues who should have been in a position to offer advice? I wonder how much consultation took place, before the point to the penalty mark. We have the assistant referee who can quickly recover position and look along that outer edge of the penalty area line to determine whether any offence is inside or out.

        The additional official on the same side as the assistant can look down the penalty area line parallel to the touchline.

        However, when calls are close to the line on the referee's diagonal he is expected to get into the correct position and to NOT guess.

        On this occasion he was not ideally placed and sadly this big call could cost Leicester City. Top referees are human too and even the best will make mistakes so the sooner the VAR is introduced the better.

          Author: Rob Harris

          With the refereeing spotlight being concentrated on events at St James Park last Wednesday evening (5th April 2017), that little matter of the Premier League Championship destiny and the significance of a season defining game at Stamford Bridge was overshadowed. But make no mistake the Chelsea Manchester City clash was by any standards a big game, Rio Ferdinand speaking on BT Sport commented before the kick off that should Chelsea have won the match, that ‘ they would have one hand on the title’ . Ok then scene set, so it’s fair to say that there was immense pressure on the match referee and his team to deliver a ‘big game’ performance. I was pleased to report on Ref Cam that this was exactly what we got from Mike Dean and his colleagues!

          We are often told by the experts that various creations, performances or works of art are masterpieces, world class or peerless. We take these things as said because they seem good enough to us to earn such praise, but more importantly because ‘experts’ are telling us! Well here at ‘You Are The Ref’ we are the experts on refereeing matters and regarding Mike Dean’s management of this particular game, we are telling you that this was an excellent performance by any standards which could only have been achieved by a few referee’s!

          So I hear you say, why is that? In refereeing everyone starts at Park Level, for some referees that is as far as they go, it may be that commitments, injury or other factors, including the possible limit of their ability to officiate at that level, determine that this is as far as they go .But for others they progress to the next level of competition, although they would already have mastered the basics of the trade they will have then tested their ability to perform at that next stage. Invariably the skill level will have risen, but so too will the intensity and speed at which events are unfolding around them, not to say increased expectations and recriminations also, so this process continues at each new competition level that the aspiring referee will find him/herself officiating at. This process whittles down the number of referee’s the further up the pyramid that we go, right up to the Premier League itself.

          I was fortunate enough to have officiated as an assistant referee and as a referee on the Premier League. In my days of running the line I was proud enough to have been appointed to the FIFA List, I say this not on grounds of vanity, but only to make the next point. Because I worked with the very best referees of the day I learned about the concept of ‘Time on the Ball’. This is a quality that all of the best sportsmen and women possess. That extra amount of time to play the next shot, make a wonderful pass, be aware of which team mates or opponents are around you. The principle is not exclusive to ball games it extends to motor sport and other competitions, martial arts to name one. Ever wondered why Messi is that split second ahead, why Murray, Djokovic and Serena Williams can play those shots, why Joe Root can play such exquisite stokes when facing a ferocious pace attack. It doesn’t end there, how the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Mark Marquez can hold onto the throttle that bit longer before braking? It is because these sportsmen and women are at the top of their game, they have the ability to create that extra fragment of time to ensure a more successful outcome in the heat of battle to take decision making to another level. Their cognitive skills are stronger and more durable when tested to the limit.

          Refereeing is no different, currently in my opinion there are two Premier League referees who are in this category of sportsmen and women, Mark Clattenburg and Mike Dean, two others are getting there but have not mastered it just yet, namely Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor. That’s not to say that other well respected referees are not good enough to officiate at Premier League Level, but in the case of Clattenburg and Dean you got the best chance of witnessing a ‘big game’ performance when you need it most, which is exactly what we got at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday (5th April 2017)!

          You can read again in detail what I said about Mike Dean’s performance, the minute by minute comments are archived in Ref Cam https://you-are-the-ref.com/ref-cam/chelsea-v-manchester-city-3/ But I can best illustrate what I mean by describing an incident in the first fifteen minutes of the game. I can be that precise because in a game of such importance, it was fifteen minutes before the first careless challenge took place. During that period four players converged on the ball between Mike Dean and assistant Jake Collin, two of them went to ground, it could have proved an early banana skin for the referee, because you could have tossed a coin on which way a resultant free kick could have gone. But at that precise moment Mike Dean’s ability to refrain from penalising and squeeze that extra fragment of time from the incident suddenly saw the ball break free and the game moved on, all the players involved simply got on with it, a moment of refereeing excellence barely noticed, and why? Because Mike Dean took the pressure off himself and he continued to do that for the remainder of the game, as I commented on Ref Cam he allowed himself a higher threshold of player contact before he penalised careless challenges. He made it look easy, when it was anything but that. The point is this particular referee had created that extra element of time at his disposal to make decisions. I’m sure you’ll now be thinking, that’s good then for Dean and Clattenburg but what about the rest of us?

          When I was coaching referees I always introduced the subject of ‘time on the ball’ for discussion. Let’s face it, moving up to officiate at a new level happens all the time, but here’s the thing, if we are conscious of this aspect of our game we can develop our cognitive skills to create that extra time sooner than it would otherwise naturally occur, to become aware of the benefits to our game and of the competitive edge that it will deliver us. Dean and Clattenburg are both supremely confident when they are officiating, that presence that they exude is there for all the players to see, it creates credibility in the minds of the players and a confidence in what they as referees will do. This can be achieved at any level of the game, every League competition played anywhere in the world has its respected referee’s, those who are trusted with the big games.

          It wasn’t always this way for the likes of Clattenburg and Dean, they were Premier League rookies at one time and had to earn their stripes, they worked their way up to the position in the game they hold now, as I commented earlier there is no reason to suppose that Oliver and Taylor won’t join or succeed them. But on a night when events on Tyneside drew much comment, it was a masterclass in refereeing some 247 miles away that for me was the most encouraging and enduring talking point of the week.

            A poor midweek of refereeing performances was eclipsed  by the worst sin of all - the incorrect application of law by Keith Stroud at Newcastle.

            The home team scored from the penalty spot only to see complete confusion reign when the referee disallowed the goal and awarded an indirect free-kick to visitors Burton. This was after he detected encroachment into the penalty area by players of both teams.

            Law states that in these circumstances the penalty kick should be retaken. It is amazing that none of the other three officials came to the aid of the referee to advise him that he was wrong in law. It is one thing to misjudge a decision, another to appear not to know the basics of the job.

            The PGMOL were forced to make a public apology for the error and now should take action by introducing an annual test for all its officials on the laws of the game.

            Meanwhile, in the Hull City v Middlesbrough game we had an assistant referee making a huge mistake in failing to detect a clear offside goal in the closing minutes. Following consultation between Michael Oliver and an assistant the goal was allowed to stand. It was an easy decision and difficult to understand why the assistant did not raise his flag.

            In the Arsenal v Bournemouth game Martin Atkinson, an in-form referee, was at fault by failing to award two clear penalty kicks to Arsenal.

            In the Southampton v Crystal Palace game the unfortunate Roger East produced what was sadly a typical performance littered with mistakes. First he failed to award Southampton a penalty for deliberate handball and the referee also made another later mistake. Crystal Palace's Zaha had just gained possession when he was fouled from behind. Referee East unbelievably waved aside any claims for a foul and then, from a cross, Southampton scored.

            It was frankly an easy decision which saw the manager of Crystal Palace Sam Allardyce rightly asking why a free-kick had not been awarded. When teams are in a relegation battle it is so important to appoint your top performing officials to these games. I have questioned in the past this referee's ability to officiate at Premier League level.

            Just a reminder to the PGMOL that Mark Clattenburg is still available for them to use before his departure to Saudi Arabia.

            Finally, the team at You Are The Ref send our very best wishes to Ray Olivier,  a very experienced educator with vast knowledge of law application who will be taking up a new role with the Japan FA.

            Despite appearing to have been marginalised by the PGMOL management, it is sad to see another expert with great knowledge and on-field experience leaving the family of English officials.

            Ray would have been the right person to set the annual test in the laws of the game.


              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

                Former Premier League midfielder Jason Jarrett has hit out at the FA and their referee development system, which he says prevents former players from being able to become referees. The 37 year old argues that it can take 10 years for a referee to rise from the bottom of the football pyramid to the top in the Premier League.

                ‘Why is it after 120 years or so and we have not had an ex pro as a referee?

                ‘I have progressed really fast. After five years as a referee, I am still earning £32 a game. Five years in the game. Five years on and it is still tough.' Read more.....

                Indeed, the list of former footballers who have taken up the whistle is a short one, one in particular was former Huddersfield Town, Bradford City and Chesterfield defender Steve Baines, who went on to have an eight-year stint as a referee in the nineties. You Are The Ref's very own Mark Halsey was a non-league goalkeeper before taking up the whistle. Others who have turned include Bob Matthewson from Bolton who became a FIFA referee, Mike Lowe and George McCabe also made the switch with the latter officiating at the 1966 World Cup Final.

                YATR's Keith Hackett said: “I’d like to defend the PGMOL from criticism on this one. The system of qualification for a referee is the responsibility of the Football Association and that is where the focus needs to be.”

                Back in 2014, Alan Biggs spoke to then Sheffield United defender Andy Butler, who himself had his own ambitions of becoming a referee.

                  Top cricket umpire Richard Kettleborough is urging football to press ahead with video reviews - and to encourage ex players into refereeing.

                  Kettleborough, the world's leading Test official, is a fan of DRS in cricket and a keen observer of the changes on the way in football.

                  Before taking up becoming an official, Richard was a first-class cricketer who appeared in 33 first-class matches for Yorkshire and Middlesex. He was appointed to the ECB list of first-class umpires in 2006, before steppingup further to the full International Panel of ICC Umpires in 2009. Since then he has won the David Shepherd Trophy for ICC Umpire of the year in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

                  Here he offers a unique perspective in an interview with Alan Biggs of You Are The Ref on Sheffield Live TV

                    Back at the start of the 2014 Premier League season, RefCam was created to not only provide live text commentary on televised games, but also, primarily, to give a unique expert referee insight into the big decisions that take place live during games.

                    It provides an informed voice to all match officials and fans alike, on the key incidents within games, and whether the law has been applied correctly, all from a refereeing perspective.

                    The aim is to strengthen and improve the level of training currently being offered by the referee administrators of national federations and to look at the issues facing referees across the globe, providing exclusive match analysis of refereeing performances in the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and MLS.

                    The RefCam team is made up of vastly experienced coaches with many years’ standing gained from their roles as professional match officials, referee coaches and assessors. The text commentary is very much similar to the type of notes produced by a referee assessor, and forms the basis of their performance review of match officials.

                    During the recent FA Cup quarter final between Chelsea and Manchester United, a game that saw a number of key incidents, RefCam provided live text commentary through Mark Halsey. With years of officiating experience to his name, Mark was able to provide a top expert refereeing analysis of all the incidents, in real time.

                    Gianluca Rocchi will be under scrutiny tonight when Man City face Monaco in the Champions League

                    The sending off of Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera was one that caused much debate among pundits and fans. Halsey, seconds after the card was produced said: "I believe Michael could have managed that second yellow card, in my opinion it was just a careless challenge."

                    He went on to say in his match report, "In my opinion the sending off changed the game completely. Looking back on Michael's performance I felt that his game management wasn't what it should be, his player management wasn't what it should be and his awareness wasn't what it should have been."

                    You can view his full report by clicking here.

                    RefCam will continue to provide unrivaled referee analysis throughout the rest of the season, beginning tonight in the Champions League where Manchester City look to continue their European journey.


                      Author: Alan Biggs

                      Michael Oliver pulled out the plum tie but was left sticking out like a sore thumb after souring an otherwise fine weekend for Select Group referees in the FA Cup and Premier League.

                      Oliver became the central figure in an unwanted sense at Stamford Bridge after controversially sending off Manchester United’s Ander Herrera in their 1-0 Cup quarter final defeat to Chelsea.

                      It was not an isolated error according to the Ref Cam blog of You Are The Ref’s Mark Halsey, who provided a running analysis on how the official could have contained a fiery encounter rather than coming close to letting it run out of control.

                      Indeed, PGMOL have kept faith in Oliver with the latest round of Premier League appointments putting him on the Sunday late afternoon kick off between Manchester City and Liverpool. YATR has pinpointed the learning points from the game at Stamford Bridge and hope the North East born referee takes on board the advice.

                      Halsey and his YATR colleagues rate Oliver highly as a contender to take over the mantle of the departing Mark Clattenburg. However, they feel he can learn a lot from failing his latest high-pressure examination.

                      “In my opinion the sending off changed the game completely,” said Halsey who felt Herrera’s second caution did not warrant the yellow card that triggered his first half dismissal, a careless rather than reckless challenge.

                      It was not the first or only time that Oliver failed to make the distinction according to Halsey, who pinpointed an early cautionable offence by Matteo Darmian on Eden Hazard that aggrieved his opponents.

                      He added: “Michael was lacking in game management, player management and awareness. And he failed to slow the game down when it was running away from him.”

                      Halsey also asserted that United’s Rojo was “lucky not to have been sent off for a stamp on Hazard” later in the game, although this was more the responsibility of assistant referee Stuart Burt in standing close to the incident but not reacting to it.

                      Keith Hackett commented: “Sadly Michael got caught up in the emotion of the occasion. He needs to demonstrate more authority by ‘putting his foot on the ball’ and slowing things down.”

                      Oliver’s performance was in contrast to the many praised on The Ref Show from across the weekend.

                      However, it was a game of much higher demands, for which Oliver was specially selected, and Professional Game Match Officials will be disappointed that Oliver did not bring the round of games to a totally successful conclusion.

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