Belfast Telegraph

We need better referees

It's a difficult job but the IFA must act to cut number of big errors

By Scott Young

If you conducted a poll of all the managers in the Danske Bank Premiership and asked them if they thought the standard of refereeing was improving in our game, I'd be surprised if any of them said yes.

When the Linfield manager, David Healy, says he was told every official in the league was a Blueman and he's yet to see it then that says it all. The managers are not happy with the men in the middle.

Referees have a hard job and I admire many of them but they are getting too many big decisions wrong.

It's easy to criticise and knock refs but I believe the standard of refereeing in this country needs to improve. It has got to be better as we are seeing too many errors.

The Irish Football Association need to address this matter. We need to see more referees coming through the system better equipped for the job following the right training and education.

Fifa referee Raymond Crangle, supposedly one of our best officials, was under the microscope again at the weekend following his two penalties awarded to Crusaders at Coleraine.

For the first penalty I felt Paul Heatley did well to make the break but the challenge from Johnny Watt was clearly outside the box and it was a free-kick, not a penalty.

When the second spot-kick was awarded I had my doubts but when I looked at it again I felt it was more of a penalty than the first one. Sometimes you do see those decisions given for shirt pulling in the box.

I know the assistant referee made the call for the first spot-kick but Raymond was the man in charge and if a manager makes a bad decision, he cannot blame his assistant or coach so he has to take responsibility.

He's the top man in charge on the day so he must accept the responsibility that goes with that.

Refs must take the criticism as well as the plaudits.

When I was playing we had guys like Alan Snoddy, Leslie Irvine, Davy Malcolm and Frankie Hiles who were strong characters and I'm afraid to say that some of our current officials could not lace their boots.

And the criticism was 10 times worse in those days as the crowds were bigger and refs were verbally tortured during Big Two matches.

The atmosphere was hostile but the referees needed to have the right mentality to deal with that.

The better refs know how to handle those situations. I can remember the ref Hugh Dallas bring struck by a missile in a Rangers-Celtic game but he carried on doing his job despite the fact his head was covered in blood - and he did a good job.

A little more honesty from the refs would help. We would like to see a willingness on their behalf to hold their hands up and admit mistakes. There's a perception that some of them are robots and you can't talk to them.

I'd also like to see more talk to the press after games when it's obvious that some major, controversial decisions have been made.

We are faced with a shortage of refs and many of them are young and inexperienced. That is a worry. They're paid decent money so they should do a decent job.

Belfast Telegraph


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