This season the FA have introduced “professional referees” to the Premiership.
Well not introduced them exactly but at least turned previously “part time” officials into full time officials. I wonder what they hope to achieve from it?
Are we to believe that referees will be better now that they are full time? I doubt it for two reasons.
Firstly, the implication is that referees were not doing the job to the best of their ability because they were part time. That’s a bit hard to take. Last years refs are all of a sudden better because now they get paid more? Taking that implication further, the refs for the last 120 or so years were all substandard? Interesting one that. Certainly some were! Anybody else remember a certain Mr Sudarso? I still think he was well paid that day at Mt Smart!
Secondly, how does being paid more enable you to referee better? “I’ve doubled my wage so, yes, he is offside?”. “I’m on $2500 a week so that’s a yellow card for you!”.
For years referees have put in as much effort as possible to their job. It has never been a case of turning up at say Stamford Bridge at 2:30 and getting changed ready for 3 o’clock. Referees usually travel to the city of their appointment the night before the game and leave the day after it. They are required to achieve and maintain a certain level of fitness if they want to stay at the top level. They are required to retire when they reach a certain age. They regularly attend courses and seminars designed to alert them to the changing face of football – the tactics, the cynicism, the potential hazards involved in refereeing at the top. In addition they often officiate at midweek matches which can take a further two days out of the working week. Hardly part time really is it?
But now that they are paid more they will be better. They haven’t got off to a good start have they? On Monday this week we saw David Elleray send off one player who surely only deserved a booking, leave unpunished a shocking tackle which deserved a red card, award a penalty against a defender who clearly fouled nobody and then sent that defender off when the incident was not a foul, not cynical, and if it was a foul wasn’t a professional foul. He was criticised severly by both managers.
If Mr Elleray is the “new improved breed of professional referee” I want the old part time ones back – except Mr Sudarso of course.