by Susan Jardine

Referee Andre Marriner will referee in the Premiership this weekend despite the incorrect sending off of Keiron Gibbs on Saturday.

Unless you have been inhabiting a different planet over the last 48 hours it has been difficult to escape the events of Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

On the 1,000th game of Arsenal mamager Arsene Wenger’s tenure with the Gunners the Frenchman not only had to observe his team being thrashed 6-0 by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea but his left back Keiran Gibbs being wrongly sent off by referee Marriner for apparently handling the ball on the goal line.

Of course TV evidence indicated that Gibbs was the innocent party and Gibbs’s team mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had committed the foul. To Mr Marriner’s credit he has apologised to Arsenal for his mistake but the events still prompt a few questions.

Even Oxlade -Chamberlain appeared to be telling referee Marriner something after Gibbs’s dismissal. If indeed Oxlade-Chamberlain was admitting he was culpable then why could Mr Marriner not reverse his decision.

Refereeing is a difficult job especially as the pace of the game has quickened over the years. This of course means that there is extra pressure on match officials. Yes mistakes will be made, but could these be eradicated with the use of TV evidence?

Clive Thomas, who refereed at the 1974 and 1978 World Cup finals in West Germany and Argentina opined that the four officials at Stamford Bridge on Saturday should not officiate for the remainder of the season.

Andre Marriner’s fellow officials at the match were assistant referees Scott Ledger and Marc Perry, while Anthony Taylor was the fourth official. They will also be involved at matches this weekend.

Prior to the announcement that Mr Marriner and his colleagues from the Chelsea v Arsenal match would officiate this weekend former referee Clive Thomas said on BBC Radio 5 Live

“It’s the most disgusting, shocking decision I’ve seen. In my opinion these four wouldn’t officiate another Premier League game this season,”

Meanwhile former Premiership referee Dermot Gallagher offered his view on BBC 5 Live Sportsweek programme on Sunday saying “”Andre made a genuine mistake and that’s all it was,”

“Unless one of his officials can call him over and say you got the wrong player, which did not happen, he has to go on what he thought was correct.

“You cannot rely on players then trying to say ‘I did this’. He made the decision in good faith and should not be stood down – he is one of the leading referees in Europe and his confidence would be shattered. Whenever he goes back the focus will inevitably be on him.”

However it is vital that those who referee have the confidence in themselves to handle whatever situation they are presented with and one has to wonder how Mr Marriner’s confidence has been affected following the events on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how he performs at St Mary’s this weekend when he takes charge of Southampton v Newcastle.

There are two ways of looking at this decision. It could be argued that it may prove counter productive as everything he does this Saturday may well come under further scrutiny. On the other hand it could be argued that it is the ‘fall off the bike and get back on immediately’ syndrome. To have banned him for the remainder of the season along with his team of officials on the day as Clive Thomas appears to be advocating would seem to have been harsh.

However there have been instances this season where referees who have made mistakes have not refereed the following weekend. Kevin Friend did not officiate for two matches after sending off Wes Brown in Sunderland’s match at Stoke City, while Mike Jones found himself on fourth official duty the following weekend after he refereed Newcastle v Manchester City Premier League clash at St James’ Park. That of course was the match where Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote had a goal controversially disallowed.

Does this not raise a further question as to why Mr Marriner received a different outcome as to the ones Mr Friend and Mr Jones both received? This of course is the question that I would like to ask of refereeing officials myself.