October 12th 2016
Crying Foul On The Referees

There was a story in this morning’s newspaper that showed the current state of refereeing in an interesting light.

On Monday night there is one of the biggest games of the season so far as Liverpool take on Manchester United. Always good enough to get people excited but then the ref for the match was announced.

Anthony Taylor, from Wythenshawe, was the man they chose and there has been much discussion this morning on the subject of whether he should be allowed to referee the match.

Amongst the dissenting voices was Keith Hackett, former Head of Refs himself who told the BBC: “No-one is questioning his integrity. But what if something goes wrong? It would be intolerable.”

Leaving aside the not unreasonable point that even by having this discussion, it was undermining Taylor’s credibility; surely there are two issues here.

Firstly, why have the FA again allowed themselves to be embroiled in a controversy that they don’t need – you would have thought in the wake of having to sack their own manager for making a mockery of their rules, they could have kept a low profile this week.

Secondly, they’ve rather set a precedent for themselves when they removed Leicester based ref Kevin Friend from a Tottenham game last season while both The Foxes and Spurs were neck and neck for the title.

By doing such a thing the FA opened themselves to all manner of issues. They have allowed themselves to be questioned by anyone, and in doing so they called into question of not just Mr. Friend, but all officials. If Mr. Taylor – who by the way supports Altrincham in the Conference North – is the best man for the job (and there is no reason to suppose he is not) then he should be allowed to ref the game and the FA should come out with a strong statement to say they refuse to bow to external pressures.

The appointments are dealt with by the FA themselves, but the PGMOL (Premier Game Match Officials) and their own rules state the following: “the process behind referee selection is all about [avoiding] “unnecessary extra external pressure and scrutiny on referees” in what is an “already a high pressure and demanding job”.

Mark Clattenburg, you know, the ref who did  the 2016 Champions League, FA Cup and European Championship finals, doesn’t have a game this weekend, wouldn’t it have made sense to give him that one and save all the fuss?

Mind you, that would mean common sense would have been used, and when did that ever bother the boys from the FA.

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