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Referees..how can we improve the standard ?

November 1, 2010 3 comments

As another weekend of football sees us all talking about another controversial refereeing decision I  ask myself what the game can do to eradicate these huge talking points.

This particular decision from Mark Clattenburg at Old Trafford shows us all that the way referees see the game is completely different to the way everybody else sees it.

Although this blog was inspired by the Nani goal against Tottenham , we could be talking about any number of refereeing incidents that occur on a regular basis.

Given that it is their job to enforce the rules of the game it is surely no wonder why we so many decisions that are not made with any degree of common sense connected to them.

They say that common sense is not that common. Well, the refereeing school of thought is strictly to the letter of the law on too many occasions.

We all appreciate that being a referee is a particularly difficult job. The further down the divisions you go the lower the standard of officiating. So what could we do to improve the level of refereeing.

I believe that there should be a drive to recruit current or ex-players to become the referees of tomorrow.

I don’t think that you will attract the top flight players. Most of them will go back to their country of origin to retire. I would not expect too many of our top players to look at this as their next career choice. The huge amounts of money they earn means that they do not need to put their reputations up for scrutinisation each week. I do however feel that there are enough players from the lower reaches of the football world that would consider becoming a referee when their playing days are over if the package was attractive enough.

There was something resembling a recruitment drive a number of years ago to attract players to be referees but this was in the days before Premier League referees were given full-time status. The package, at that time, was not very attractive and I don’t think that it has improved.

Currently the path to become a referee is a long one. It would mean gaining experience on a Sunday morning on park pitches. The gap between committing to the course and actually becoming a referee is too long and puts many off. If the authorities were to align the refereeing courses with how they teach professional footballers to become coaches then I think you could see a big upturn in those who would be up for it.

The FA have a fastrack scheme for professional footballers of a certain experience who wish to take their coaching badges. You bypass the early levels allowing you become a qualified coach much sooner. They have residential courses where you take something of a crash course.

They are conceding that footballers have a good understanding of the game and use these courses to provide you with different skills like structure and organisation. These skills we learn allow us to communicate our knowledge of the game in the correct manner and order.

I think if there was some kind of related referees course which did this for players you could see many stepping forward. Players could gain experience by overseeing training sessions at professional clubs,youth team or reserve matches. If the length of time were reduced and the financial rewards were attractive enough then this could be something that would work.

Currently there is still a mentality of ‘us and them’. Players feel that you cannot communicate on the same level as referees. They are a separate breed.

The current trend of referees, and those that have gone before them have no real understanding of how the game is played. By having ex-professional players you will soon tear down those barriers and change the way that referees are seen and respected.     

Will we see every decision being made correctly? No, of course not.

But maybe, just maybe, will we see a much-needed decrease in the number of ridiculous decisions we see each week up and down the country.

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