Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: Referees have to earn respect

The FA is trying to get its 'Respect' campaign back on track by arranging a meeting with the League Managers Association.

Clearly, it feels its biggest problem lies there. It doesn't.

The concept was flawed from the beginning because it centres on something that simply isn't true: wearing a uniform, in my view, doesn't warrant automatic respect.

Some years ago, I commentated on an old-style 'play-off' game at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Middlesbrough.

Boro won and some Chelsea fans decided that was good enough reason to start a riot. Visiting supporters were 'locked in' by police until the troublemakers had been moved on and I was delayed, too, needing to go live into the Radio 4 main news bulletin because of what had happened.

I made my exit at the same time as Boro fans an hour and a half after the game finished. I was heading in the same direction as most of them were — Fulham Broadway tube station.

My car was parked just beyond. The police formed a human barrier across the road and were forcing everyone to go into the station.

I approached a woman PC, explaining that I wasn't headed for the tube, rather towards my car: "That blue one over there. Yes, that one. Can I step across the 'barrier'?" "Do that," she replied, "and I'll arrest you." And she meant it.

It was a ridiculous stance to take.

Clearly, I wasn't a potential troublemaker. For heaven's sake, I was dressed in a pinstripe suit and I was carrying a briefcase!

Yet, of course, I had to do what I was ordered to do but, perhaps, you now get where I'm coming from?

Referees are human: they make mistakes. However, they should not be immune from criticism by players, managers or, dare I suggest it, commentators.

I draw the line at abuse. No player should be allowed to swear at a referee during a game and no manager, not even a knight of the realm, should be allowed to go on to the pitch afterwards to finger-point or rant at an official.

However, I don't see what Roy Keane, Paul Ince or Dave Jones has done wrong in recent weeks.

Some of the decisions that have gone against their teams have been laughable. Keane was actually contacted by the fourth official after the Sunderland defeat at Chelsea and told that the second and third goals shouldn't have stood.

What respect should the Irishman show to the referee in such circumstances?

The aim of the Respect campaign is to "combat unacceptable behaviour in our game at every level — on the pitch and from the sidelines."

LMA chief executive Richard Bevan attended a meeting of 35 managers at Coventry's Ricoh Arena last Monday and afterwards suggested that better teamwork and communication would help the campaign succeed.

Yet, nobody from the referees' governing body — PGMOL — was invited to attend.

It was only two days later that the LMA decided they needed to talk to them — communication?

No, this campaign lies in ruins.

Premier League heavyweights have bigger targets in mind

The only surprise for me in the Carling Cup results this week is that two of the big four are still in it. Why bother?

Clearly, it is precisely the sort of competition that matters to a Tottenham or an Arsenal ‘youth team'. Good luck to them.

It provides pennies in rewards and a UEFA Cup place — make that a Europa League spot.

However, it is surely an irrelevance to those with Champions League glory or riches on their mind?

Would Sir Alex have been bothered if United had lost to a pathetically defence-minded Queens Park Rangers?

And the only thing that SHOULD bother Rafa Benitez was the abysmal performance of a Liverpool XI that appeared well-equipped enough to win.

But, just to keep the theme going in this week's column, you couldn't help but notice the shocking decision by Mike Riley not to award Liverpool a penalty late in the game.

He had a clear view of Bale's foul challenge on Degen — Bale wasn't anywhere near the ball.

Had the penalty been given and scored, Liverpool might have rescued a game they didn't deserve to. It was yet an

other of this season's many refereeing howlers.

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Only the Sheffield United captain Chris Morgan knows the truth.

Was there ‘intent' on his part for the challenge on Iain Hume that put the Barnsley player in hospital with a fractured skull and internal bleeding?

It wasn't till I was sitting in the Old Trafford press room on Tuesday night that I saw the ‘challenge’ replayed over and over again on Sky Sports.

How Andy D'Urso thought it worthy of merely a yellow card is an indictment of the referee's judgement.

Morgan had both feet on the ground. It wasn't as if he was jumping and ‘needed leverage' by extending his elbows.

It wasn't merely a ‘leg-breaker’ or a challenge that could endanger a career.

This, have no doubts, was a life-threatening injury.

What ‘legal action’ Barnsley might seek I don't know.

Football itself is hamstrung by the limitations of its own regulations. The ref showed yellow, not red.

But I think there is something sad, something that stinks in the modern game, if Morgan isn't held properly accountable for his actions.







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