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you are the ref

    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.

      Respect

      There has been a lot of speculation about a national strike by grassroots referees in protest at widespread and unacceptable instances of match officials being abused.

      You Are The Ref is against this proposal, which has emanated from calls by a young referee in one particular part of the country.

      This is not because we don't believe there is a problem in this area or because we lack sympathy for officials on the ground. Far from it. The team here ran a recent campaign, highlighting abuse cases and calling for action on this cultural malaise in football.

      We have expressed our concerns about the lack of respect shown towards our grassroots referees. I have also emphasised the need for referees to report incidents in an accurate manner.

      Further, I hope the Football Association resurrect the Respect campaign and support it with a raft of sanctions that act as a true deterrent. For instance, my view is that where an assault on a referee takes place this should be dealt with by the police with the FA duly copied in with the facts. However, we also believe the solution lies in communication and education.

      I am aware that the FA are currently in the process of recruiting a Respect Officer, soon to be appointed.

      Our focus is on supporting young referees to enjoy the game - as is their right - and to progress within it. A withdrawal would be counter-productive in my view.

      Today I received the results of a survey carried out by the Sheffield Referees Association and frankly I was delighted to see that they are very much against the organisation of a referees strike. We at You Are The Ref have been clear that we do not support strike action.

      The preferred route is to ensure that when young referees take to the field they have been suitably trained in conflict management and how to cope and deal with abuse from parents on the touchline.

      Mentoring and coaching are the key factors in ensuring that referees remain in the game and that they do not become one of those 7,000 who hang up their boots up at the end of each season.

      The basic referees course would appear not to adequately prepare referees - as there is less than a 1% failure rate nationally. Every year around 7,000 referees are trained and a similar number lost.

      Unless mentors are appointed to support the first few games of a new referee there is a higher chance of drop-out. The course requires this in two of the first six games but in reality we hear that this is not happening.

      So more power to the FA in dealing with this issue proactively. A strike is not in the interests of football and something we do not wish to see.

        Pierluigi Collina

        You Are The Ref would like to congratulate Pierluigi Collina on his appointment as the new chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee. First reported by Sky Sport 24, he takes the place of Spaniard Angel Maria Villar Llona.

        His role will involve deciding the list of international referees, selecting the match officials for the world's competitions and dictating the line of interpretation on the regulation and to propose changes.

        YATR's Keith Hackett has welcomed the decision calling it an 'excellent appointment.'

          Author: Jason Pettigrove

          Shane MMA
          Shane Mansfield with tutor Guy Beale

          It isn’t too far from the truth to suggest that refereeing at the grass roots level in England, or should we say the pathway to successful refereeing from the bottom rung upwards, hasn’t been the best.

          For far too long the men-in-black at the lower levels of our beautiful game fall out of love with it almost as soon as donning the uniform – and that can’t be right.

          Indeed, it may come as a surprise to some people to know that the vast majority of officials who take up the whistle in those early stages, put it back down again within the first 10 games that they’ve taken charge of.

          No ref, no game – it’s that simple.

          Lack of support is one of the most common causes because, let’s face it, at it’s most basic level, if you’re being abused by those on the sidelines and there’s no one to turn to for advice and guidance, then why on earth would you continue putting yourself through the same for what, in general terms, amounts to a bit of pocket money.

          With so much emphasis being placed on getting more and more officials into the game, there has to be a framework in place to provide for a successful transition from ‘the classroom’ to the pitch - something that we at You Are The Ref have been highlighting the need for, for some time now.

          Fortunately help is at hand in the form of a relatively new concept from the FA.

          You Are The Ref experts plot path to the top for budding referee Shane Mansfield

          Last season, they rolled out their ‘Basic Training Course for Referee Instruction’ which incorporated a number of new initiatives.

          To begin with, candidates must now complete a pre-course learning pack designed for them to already have an understanding of the Laws of the Game before their instructions begins -  which then focuses on the art of “how” to referee.

          The other major change has been the commitment of each County FA to endeavour to ensure every new official is accompanied by a ‘mentor’ for their first 5 games, before they take their final written exam.

          It would appear from the feedback that is being received countrywide, that the initiative is proving to be a success, but it can only continue to be so if there are enough willing volunteers to take it forward.

          Whether it be a retired official, or one that wants to give something back to the game - and the role - that they love, clearly there are obvious benefits all round. Especially at a time when PGMOL are being rightly criticised for their management and handling of the professional game.

          Back in November 2014, Shane Mansfield was the first referee to enrol on the You Are The Ref scholarship scheme, at a time when the FA’s new system was not in place.

          Through hard work and dedication, plus the backing of some of YATR’s sharpest minds including Shane’s own mentor Guy Beale, he has managed to continually improve on his refereeing standards since then.

          This past weekend, YATR caught up with him after he took charge of his first mentoring session on behalf of the Wiltshire FA.

          How much did you enjoy passing on some tips to a new referee?

          “I put my name forward to help the new referee as I just thought an arm around the shoulder in their first adult game could make a big difference. Even if I didn’t say a thing or offer any feedback – just a presence would be enough.

           “From a personal level it was refreshing for me to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of being out there and observe another referee in his infancy. I remembered when I first started and had to tailor my feedback to the referee and not overload him.

           “As much as it was a cold Sunday morning in Devizes, I really enjoyed getting my teeth into coaching/mentoring. I am coach in my capacity as a martial artist so thought it should be something I am reasonably well positioned to be doing.

           “The biggest plus in any coaching is seeing the individual take on your feedback and put it into practise. And even in the lads’ first game he did something in the second half that he didn’t in the first half – and that’s all you want. Progress.

           “Having a frame of reference is so important in most areas of life and I think it will be very useful for this referee going forwards. But I also accept sometimes mentoring is simply being there and not dissecting every element of the game.

           “I can certainly see myself doing this again.”

          Why are officials like you ideally placed to help the Wiltshire FA and the new officials and how do you relate so closely to the feeling of being alone when you start?

          “I passed my referee exam back in 2014 & when I turned up to my first adult game, even as a professional fighter at the time, I was slightly nervous. “How do I start this all off?,” “everyone is looking at me,” “Where do I stand?,” “Who will do the line for me?,” “Who do I turn to if it all goes wrong?” Etc. etc.

           “All of these things, and more, were going through my mind before I even set foot on the field of play. Who knows what some 17-year-old kid would be thinking on a Sunday morning with 22 adults screaming at him every time a ball goes out for a throw in.

           “So Wiltshire and other FA’s pushing out mentors really is a great initiative. I commend them for it and hope to be a part of it.

           I have only been refereeing a few years myself. I have managed to get promoted each year and hope to reach Level 4 this year, but it’s still very much like yesterday when I walked out for the first time in that Trowbridge League game and was saying those things in my head above.

           “So I would like to think this positions me well to be able empathise with a new referee. That being said a referee with 20 years’ experience can clearly offer support too!”

          This system was not in place when you started. How effective would you say it has been?

          “I don’t know if this system was fully in place when I first started - but it wasn’t up in lights as it should be.

           “Referees are refereeing or working, but we need to be thinking about the bigger picture. By making this a priority and ‘the norm,’ it will be a cultural embedding of behaviour and part of my job as a senior referee would be clear. Maybe at promotion for Level 5-4 it could be included within the promotional criteria as having to mentor X amount of games.

           “I can only judge from my one experience of this so far - but there can only be positives from a new referees perspective.

           “Everything that I have picked up during the course of the last 2 seasons from my coach, Wiltshire FA sessions and fellow referees can begin to be funnelled into new officials from day one.

           “It certainly gave my referee confidence to know that someone on the side line was in his corner. An example from this particular game was a head injury to the goalkeeper early on – the referee simply asked me some advice on if I should let the player continue. We have to remember this referee will never have had to be in the middle before & ultimately all eyes are on them.

           “As I spoke about previously having a frame of reference is key. Alleviating some of the burden on a new referee could be the difference between retention and that person canning it.

           “I’m sure there are MANY other positive examples like mine from around the country with other FA’s & mentors.

           “At the moment all we keep hearing about refereeing is negative press in grassroots football, but this new initiative really should be a cause to champion.

           “I’m happy to help push this forward because I love refereeing and Wiltshire FA have made me a senior official. Personally, I believe with that comes some responsibility and repayment to them for what they have done for me.”

          MMA2
          Shane Mansfield - a You Are The Ref-supported football referee - after winning his most recent MMA fight

          Although, as Shane notes, many referees are already working the games themselves or are often observing other officials for the enhancement of their own game, to deliver this programme effectively, a little extra effort from all is required.

          For example, a full time job and an MMA hobby hasn’t stopped Shane from committing to the programme because even a game per month as a mentor is better than none at all.

          Refereeing standards and development start at the lowest levels and it’s an educational drum that YATR have been banging since its existence.

          How can we expect the standards at the top to be of sufficient quality if the building blocks below haven’t been implemented correctly?

          There’s now a genuine opportunity to be able to grasp the refereeing nettle at inception, foster and nurture it, and ensure that, as each official climbs the ladder, that he or she impacts on those coming in behind them.

          It’s YOUR game and YOU can make a positive contribution to it.

          YOU are the ref.

            On this week's The Ref Show, Alan Biggs was joined by Mark Lawrenson and Glenn Turner to discuss all the hot topics from the weekend's action.

            Should David Luiz have been sent off?

            How did Neil Swarbrick do on Saturday evening?

            All these questions answered and more including Lawro's view on Liverpool's title chances. Even John Moss gets a mention, a positive one, who would have thought?

             

              In discussion on today's show was Michael Oliver's appointment to a Champions League game this week, some contentious decisions in the Premier League; as well as some of the action from the Championship gets a mention including the Friday night game between Forest and Birmingham. Join Alan Biggs, Mark Halsey and David Hirst for another lively 'The Ref Show'.

               

                Author: Keith Hackett

                Football Soccer - Liverpool v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 16 First Leg - Anfield, Liverpool, England - 10/3/16 Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo shows a yellow card to Manchester United's Memphis Depay after awarding a penalty to Liverpool Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

                Premier League games between Liverpool and Manchester United always produce a real challenge for the referee.

                The media hype in the approach can fire up an already highly-charged atmosphere between spectators and players alike.

                This added tension will put extra pressure on the players, who need to ensure that their participation takes place within the laws of the game.

                The man in the middle must remain calm and produce a performance that is accurate in its decision-making and operate a pro-active man-management style to calm things down when the heat comes into the game.

                That first goal, substitution or yellow card can change the temperature and result in player misbehaviour.

                The referee and his team of colleagues need to be fully focused and the fourth official must ensure against misbehaviour in the technical area and work hard to keep a lid on things.

                Anthony Taylor

                The referee appointed, Anthony Taylor, has been in top form for the last two years and fully deserves his selection for the big match.

                However, I have massive concerns that this official, who resides on the outskirts of Manchester, can come under a great deal of personal pressure if the game hinges on one or more controversial decisions.

                We at You Are The Ref wish Anthony and his team all the best for a good performance without controversy.

                 

                  These are strange times when a referee from Altrincham is getting the chance to take charge of one of the biggest club games in the world. And by that I am not implying that Anthony Taylor is anything but a top referee, by the way.

                  Alan Brazil

                  But I used to live next door to Altrincham, in Hale in fact, and I never met an Alty fan once!

                  There has been so much needless debate over his appointment for Monday's visit of Manchester United to Anfield, because if you ask me, whether he is a red or a blue or whatever, and I have met more than one Liverpool fan in Cheshire you know, the risk Mike Riley at the PGMOL is running is just too great.

                  I have played for Manchester United in this fixture myself, and there's enough hate going around when United play City, Everton, Leeds and Arsenal, but this is a different level, believe me.

                  That atmosphere actually made me feel like I wasn't just up against the best players around in Hansen, Souness, Dalglish and Lawro, but that we were up against the man in the middle, too.

                  Throw in a controversial last-minute penalty awarded to United in such an environment and just imagine the chaos you would have on your hands next week.

                  Make no mistake, this game is still the big one, and I would have appointed someone who is not remotely open to any accusations, real or made up.

                  I do know about the precedent set with Kevin Friend last season and the clarification which followed, and I can see why a member of the public might ask, if you are preventing this ref from taking that game, where could it all end?

                  However, in this instance I see no reason to take any chances: Taylor should not have been given this game.

                  Anthony Taylor

                  I have been asked what changes I'd make, given the chance, on the broader topic of the state of our game. And two innovations, I feel, are staring us in the face.

                  Forget the video man in the van for a second, we are quite able as things stand to single out the most vicious examples of foul play and take appropriate action.

                  By that I mean a three-man panel on the Monday, or Tuesday if necessary, made up of an ex-ref, ex-manager and ex-player. They would dish out lengthy bans, not fines, for the worst offenders with the elbow or for two-footed challenges, regardless of whether the ref says he has seen the incident.

                  Sure, it will involve video technology but that has helped us sort goal-line uncertainty and it will only take two or three seconds to get the information relayed to the ear of the ref on the day, anyway.

                  So for me it means zero tolerance for the most vicious players and they get dealt with far more harshly than is currently the case as soon as the panel comes together following the game.

                  It's not rocket science, and this would improve our game immeasurably, I'm certain.

                  The other change I'd bring in? Lower all of the ticket prices, not just for away fans. You only have to look at the business models of clubs these days to see how little it would affect their bottom line to bring the cost of attending games back within the range of the ordinary family.

                  Until next time you can catch me on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast every week day on TalkSPORT, 6-10am.

                    We had a showdown today in the studio as Keith Hackett took on former Premier League manager Iain Dowie on the much talked about issue of 'grappling'. Joined by presenter Alan Biggs, the three discussed both sides of the story in what ended up being a very enjoyable debate. Also on topic was Darren Ferguson's comments this past weekend, he complained publicly about referee Trevor Kettle's 'language' towards his players, where do officials draw the line between banter and abuse?

                     

                     

                     

                      Author: Alan Biggs

                      Anthony Taylor

                      Refereeing chiefs have put a powder-keg under Anthony Taylor by handing him potentially the most explosive match of the weekend, You Are The Ref experts have warned.

                      Keith Hackett insists Manchester resident Taylor’s appointment to the Liverpool-Manchester United clash on Monday is “grossly unfair” to the 37-year-old referee.

                      The two Lancashire giants share one of the fiercest rivalries in football and matches between them are always highly charged.

                      While Taylor has refereed both Manchester clubs on occasions, despite living in Wythenshawe, Hackett believes Professional Game Match Officials are taking far too big a risk on this occasion – even though it is well-known he has a harmless affinity to non-league Altrincham.

                      It is one of several contentious appointments made by PGMOL for the resumption of the Premier League after the international break, as Jason Pettigrove will demonstrate in his Runners and Riders blog later this week.

                      Football Soccer - Manchester United v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg - Old Trafford, Manchester, England - 17/3/16 Referee Milorad Mazic awards a penalty to Manchester United Reuters / Andrew Yates Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

                      “No-one is questioning Anthony’s integrity or his ability to handle this game,” said Hackett. “You could argue it’s testimony to his unflappable character and capacity to focus that he’s been appointed to it.

                      “Taylor is also in form and establishing himself firmly as one of the select group’s best operators.

                      “But what if something goes wrong for him on the day – as it can for even the finest referees? That’s when the focus on him would be intolerable, especially if a controversial incident has gone in favour of Liverpool and it influences the result.

                      “If that happens then it would be those who appointed him who must take the blame for taking such an avoidable risk – on a weekend when Mark Clattenburg, the 2016 Champions League final referee, is holding up a board as fourth official in another match.”

                      PGMOL were sensitive enough to bias claims to have Kevin Friend, a supporter of Leicester, removed from a game featuring the Foxes’ title rivals Spurs late last season. Apparent inconsistencies were highlighted by Taylor taking charge of Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final with Everton around the same time.

                      While there is no suggestion whatsoever that Taylor is not impartial, and no basis for it, Liverpool fans have already seized on his appointment with complaints on social media.

                      Former referees’ chief Hackett added: “It is a small slice of what can be expected if things go wrong for Anthony – and his bosses – in the game itself.

                      “I sincerely hope that he has a very good match – for any number of reasons.”

                       

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