by Kieran Davies

The Premier League is by far the best league in the land and offers some of the best entertainment week in, week out. But as a lover of the game, I think football is constantly being marred by one problem and it’s not racism, hooliganism or corruption as some would lead you to believe but something much more grass roots…………officiating the games. Now Sepp Blatter and the likes have made it blatantly obvious that we will all be going to the games on hoverboards by the time video technology is implemented in the game. People will tell you the game and has changed, it’s faster paced, more frenetic and big business. Whilst this is true the core reason more mistakes are happening more regularly is because players are over-protected by the laws of the game. Our beloved football is getting softer and softer and we’re left to wonder whether it will become a non-contact sport completely.

The linesman have no excuse, that job hasn’t changed, the job requires the official to keep up with play and assist the referee in making correct decisions, so why so many mistakes?  Howard Webb judging by the last World Cup is perceived as England’s top referee, to be honest I think he would struggle to feature in England’s ten most famous bald people. The amount of mistakes this man has made in games begs belief and in any other line of work you would have been cleaning your desk or locker out long before now. Maybe that’s what’s needed is make these people more culpable for their actions. Take Saturday for example, Sunderland vs Wigan. Now it was never going to be Real vs Barca but the game was ruined by the sending off of Jordi Gomez. Replays showed that also sending Rose off would’ve been the required action if sending Gomez off but even worse, Larssen committed a far worse uncontrollable two footed lunge which went completely unpunished. Consistency is needed. Say after seeing the incidents the FA handed Webb a three match ban where he is then required to officiate League 1 and 2 games while another official is given the chance to step up to the mark. Would this force officials into upping their game?

Diving is becoming more and more part of the game and in some regions turning the slightest contact into a glimpse into the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan is an art form. As a Liverpool fan I’m realistic enough to know that despite Leon Barnett’s karate chop on Luis Suarez on the weekend, he is a victim of his own reputation from having done the aforementioned in the past. It still doesn’t excuse the referee from making the correct decision and penalising the Norwich man’s feeble attempt to audition as Batfink’s new sidekick. Man Utd suffered the same misery when Nani was denied a certain penalty in their game but as it happened I wondered whether it was actually the weight of karma that brought him down.  Also when referees decide to turn down penalty appeals and claim a player to be diving then action must be taken consistently in booking players. As for ex-referees (Graham Poll) coming out and saying he is paying the penalty for previous antics this is rubbish as the rules of the game are in black and white, no subsections for exemptions sorry Graham.

So we know the problem, what’s the answer? Referring to video evidence would slow the game down too much. What if we allowed officials at half time to review footage of the key incidents of the first half? Whilst they cannot change their decisions you would think that if he could see a player had cheated them that his actions towards that player in the second half would be different and maybe in the grand scheme iron themselves out somewhat? Or as previously mentioned what about disciplining the officials and forcing them to referee lower league games during such bans. Something needs to be done as the decisions have a big knock on effect to people losing jobs off the back of them in some cases or financial loss as a result. Where will the line be drawn, when a club is relegated due to an incorrect decision and the club involved sues the referee’s association for loss of revenue?  We can do what the powers that be want and bury our heads in the sand or we can address the issue and start getting the game we love back on track.