Referee standards ‘will get worse’ according to former senior match official

21 Nov

A former senior referee has warned the standard of officiating will decrease in the next ten years.

The prediction comes after a number of controversial decisions, such as Charlie Austin and Sadio Mane’s recent disallowed goals and Alexandre Lacazette’s handball assist in Premier League games at St Mary’s, The Emirates and Selhurst Park respectively.

Austin couldn’t believe his goal was ruled out

Speaking anonymously to talkSPORT, the former match official claimed the influence of FA Referees Committee Chair David Elleray is the reason for his concern.

He said: “In the next ten years the standard will not be as good as it has been in the past.”

“You get to a certain level in refereeing and you make a choice of lining or refereeing. The way it was implemented was people were forced into making decisions where they had to choose refereeing or lining, or it was made for them. They lost a number of good referees because a lot of the good referees have been told to go on the lining track. They’re now constantly short of referees.”

David Elleray declined to comment when contacted by talkSPORT.

David Elleray talking to England boss Gareth Southgate

The source also believes a lack of support given to grassroots officials causes many to give up.

“Sometimes there’s too much pressure on people at that level and they walk away from it and we lose some good referees”, he added. “Or they have enough of the bureaucracy.”

The FA confirmed the majority of FA Referees Committee are from County FAs and they ensure that the Chairman has a full briefing on grassroots football.

Earlier this year Mark Clattenburg told talkSPORT he had been bullied by David Elleray before he left the UK to lead refereeing in Saudi Arabia.

The anonymous match official said: “The problem is, as soon as Mark Clattenburg talks and speaks about the unfairness and the bullying he’s spoken about, everybody else disappears and clams up because those who are still operational are not going to challenge David Elleray or the PGMOL.”

Mane had a fair goal ruled out against Arsenal

It is hoped the introduction of VAR will improve future decision-making. 60 matches across the FA Cup and EFL Cup this season – all involving Premier League teams – are helping officials prepare for the technology’s Premier League debut next season.

PGMOL General Manager Mike Riley said: “VAR can actually add value. If the referee has made a wrong decision and VAR can quickly correct that and get the right outcome then the game will benefit.”

Referee who woke up in A&E claims sentence for his attacker is a ‘travesty’

14 Sep

An amateur referee who was knocked unconscious by a player says his attacker “escaped justice” by walking free from court.

28 year old Luke Nicholls has been handed a 12-month community order and been required to wear an electronic tag for inflicting actual bodily harm on Henry Ifesi during a match in Luton in 2016.

Mr Ifesi’s resulting injuries

Mr Ifesi, 49, told talkSPORT: “To me this is a travesty. The sentence will not deter anybody and it will not make me feel safer.”

The attack occured during a match between AFC Stopsley and AFC Enterprise at Stockwood Park on 11 December 2016 in the North Home Counties Sunday Football League.

Mr Ifesi recalls many AFC Stopsley players including Luke Nicholls being abusive towards him from the start of the match.

During the second half Mr Nicholls was given a yellow card, which prompted mass dissent and threats that the referee would be knocked out.

Mr Ifesi said: “I moved towards the sideline with AFC Stopsley players surrounding me, pushing me slightly and shouting in my face. I said to the manager of AFC Enterprise that if anything happened to me to be my witness.”

In the ensuing argument Mr Ifesi says he awarded a red card to Mr Nicholls’ brother and “then I woke up in A&E”.

Mr Ifesi was hospitalised by the attack

Witnesses later told him what had happened.

Mr Ifesi said: “It wasn’t as if it was a spontaneous thing. Luke Nicholls prepared himself, took his time, walked behind me and landed this blow.”

The impact rendered the referee immediately unconscious, causing him to fall to the ground and cut his lip. He was unconscious for up to 25 minutes.

21 months later Mr Ifesi, who has not officiated a match since, says the attack has had a huge effect on his life.

“When I walk around now I am so conscious of myself. When somebody goes behind me I turn and brace myself. It’s a subconscious reaction.”

He insists Mr Nicholls should have gone to jail: “You cannot let the man walk free. What the court has done will in no way help society.”

Ref Support UK CEO Martin Cassidy believes this incident is further evidence that IFAB, which sets the laws of the game, should permit match officials to wear body cameras.

He said: “It took nearly two years for the culprit in this case to be brought to justice. All that valuable police time would have been saved if the rules allowed recording equipment to be used.”

The Ministry of Justice told talkSPORT it does not comment on individual cases. The sentence falls within sentencing guidelines for the offence.