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Glenn Ferguson keen to see officials admit mistakes and reduce the chance of future errors

By Graham Luney

Published 04/08/2015

Quick question: Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson has words with referee Evan Boyce
Quick question: Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson has words with referee Evan Boyce

Glenn Ferguson wants to see Irish League referees raise their game to stop domestic football going on a downward spiral.

For two years in a row the performances of match officials were blasted after the Irish Cup final and refs were also heavily criticised throughout the season.

In November, Fifa whistler Mervyn Smyth was 'stood down' for two weeks following a poor display in a stormy clash between Glenavon and Linfield.

And the Irish Cup decider, the showpiece occasion of the season, produced more controversial calls on the pitch.

In the 2014 final between Ballymena United and Glenavon, Raymond Crangle sent off three players and the Gary Thompson dismissal in particular angered Sky Blues boss Ferguson.

In this year's decider at The Oval, ref Ross Dunlop elected not to send off Willie Garrett after the Glentoran defender challenged Michael Gault and a handball shout against Calum Birney was also ignored.

Both Dunlop and Crangle, who was behind the goal during the latter incidents, have been stood down from Premiership duty for two weeks.

'Spike' wants to see the refs hold their hands up and admit mistakes when they happen.

"I think it's reasonable to ask the referees to get the big decisions right in the big games," said the Linfield legend.

"With qualification for Europe also on the line, the Irish Cup final game was worth up to £170,000 for the winners on top of the trophy.

"The amazing thing about the Michael Gault incident is that even if the referee didn't think it was a foul, a free-kick should have been awarded to Portadown because Elliott Morris picked up the back pass. That was a mistake made by all the officials.

"We just want officials to hold their hands up and admit when they have made a mistake. We are all human and players, managers and referees will make mistakes but we want the refs to take some responsibility for their actions.

"Referees' chief David Malcolm talks about wanting the managers to have a good rapport with refs but that can only happen if they are going to admit to getting things wrong, just as we all do. We are all accountable for our actions.

"David has said we have 10 senior refs available and some are young and inexperienced but I've witnessed them ignoring the advice of more experienced officials on the touchline.

"The key aspect in all of this is that they must learn from mistakes so that minimises the chances of them repeating those mistakes.

"If a ref makes a howler then there should be no hiding away from that fact.

"But there have also been reports of headsets not working and that just makes a mockery of what they are trying to achieve. All that needs to be sorted out.

"After the last two Irish Cup finals we have been talking about the performance of the officials and it shouldn't be that way. When that happens you realise you have an issue to address. It's important the players and managers have faith in the officials.

"I would even look at using more experienced referees from England or Scotland."

Belfast Telegraph

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