Spoiler'll Fix It

How to deal with the problem of Premier League referees

Three ways to make Kinnear less grumpy after a game

Martin Atkinson/ Mickey Mouse

According to a poll held on The Spoiler yesterday, the overwhelming majority of football fans believe there is a problem with the standard of Premier League refereeing that must be addressed post haste. The likes of Joe Kinnear, Mark Hughes, and David Moyes are all outspoken on the subject, but none are keen to offer or endorse a positive, practical solution to the issue. With this in mind, The Spoiler has compiled a three point plan to improve the state of officiating in the top flight…

1. Introduce a video referee

It’s a sad fact that the game moves far too fast for an infallible human to keep up with – a referee can’t be everywhere at once, and a linesman cannot expected to be perfectly accurate when he must be looking at two places at once (technically a physical impossibility). The video ref system has been touted for years, and as Spoiler reader Sack the Juggler eloquently says, it has been successfully implemented in rugby, so why not in the beautiful game? It’s time to embrace technology and make proper use of the cameras that cover every angle of every stadium anyway.

2. Pay the referees more money

At present, Premier League referees receive a retainer of £33,000 and a further £1,000 for each match they officiate. This usually equates to about £60,000 per year. While this seems an ample amount for 90 minutes of work on a weekend, surely there is enough money in the game to pay them £100,000, or even £200,000 per year? Some clubs will pay that for one week of services from a player! There is a general rule in business that the best talent is secured by paying outrageous salaries – there is more pressure to perform when money is involved. Imagine the competition for excellent officiating that would be created if there were hundreds of highly motivated youngsters vying for every refereeing position (instead of the current situation, where Sunday matches across the country are struggling to get hold a man willing to wear black and get verbally abused)? A high standard and a new generation of refs with desire to be the best can only be created with the best possible motivator: a big fat salary.

3. Limit the amount of times a team can contest a decision

At the tennis at Wimbledon, players are allowed to challenge three decisions per set, yet down the road at Stamford Bridge, Cashley Cole can get away with shouting at a referee until his face is as blue as the shirt on his back. If the manager or the captain was only allowed to challenge, say, four decisions during a match, the referee would feel less harangued, more focused and less inclined to ‘balance things out’ by allowing or disallowing fouls committed at a later point in the game. The ‘challenge rule’ could work hand-in-hand with video refereeing, whereby a challenged decision is replayed, a decision is made and the game swiftly continues. This system works well in American sports, so why not in the Premier League?

Got any other ideas? Think we be talkin’ crazy? Let us know below.

5 responses so far
  • fourstar // November 11, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    How about four linesmen, one for each side of each half. Between them they would spot more infringements more accurately and, combined with video replay and ‘challenges’, eradicate a large percentage of the debatable decisions per match.

    That said, what on earth would we discuss in the pub for hours afterwards :)

  • Kooper // November 11, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    The game should play while the replays are being reviewed by the video team at Soho Square. Then the stadium announcer could make an announcement.
    “The foul, penalty and subsequent goal by Manchester United have been disallowed due to a blatant dive by United’s Number 7. A Yellow card has been given to Number 7.” Which would then cue Ronaldo to beg and plead with the announcer.

  • andrew // November 12, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    video reviews would be fine but 4 challenges is a lot. I say you take a page from American football. 2 challenges, followed by a third if both of your challenges turn in your favor. Also how will this work with the pace of the game? A video ref must render a decision in a minute time period seems fine and then add to stoppage. Seems fair(ish), yea?

  • Mark M // December 15, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    ‘Time off’ – A call heard all around the country at rugby matches every weekend. The referee stops the game clock for injuries, or to talk things over with captains when persistant penalties are being given away. When watching on the telly, the game clock stops. Thus at the end of the game everyone knows exactly how long is left.

    Contrast with the Arsenal game this week when 3 minutes went on the board. With the time at 90:43 a man went down injured and play stopped. Two and a half minutes later, play resumed and the referee called time at 95 mins, 30 seconds too soon. How often have we seen injuries that have seen play stopped for 7 or 8 minutes, only to see 4 minutes of extra time given.

    The ‘Time off’ option gives a referee a chance to calm a game down, take his time to talk with his assistants and (if implemented) call up to the video ref – all without affecting the amount of game time. Also, the practise of the ‘slow substitution’ becomes redundant. The final part of this is that game time needs to go off the second a referee awards a penalty and only start again when the ref blows his whistle to signal the penalty may be taken. Stops the players petulance from costing the fans a minute or two of time they’ve paid for.

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