Wednesday, 19 November 2014

THE PRAGMATISM OF THE PENALTY AREA



FORMER referee Mark Halsey earned huge admiration and respect when he bounced back after falling victim to cancer of the throat.

In his absorbing book, Added Time (published by Floodlit Dreams at £12.99), he recalls how he officiated at one match when the disease was at an advanced stage.

It was the opening match of the 2009-10 season in which Arsenal beat Everton 6-1 at  Goodison Park  on August 15 - just a couple of days before he was due to be admitted to hospital for what proved to be a life-saving operation.

He writes: “When I blew the final whistle, I thought I was going to collapse,”

He says he summoned his two assistants to his side and they escorted me off the field, “virtually propping me up to make sure I did not stumble”.

Mark continues: “In the sanctuary of the dressing room, I slumped on a bench with my head in my hands, a towel over my head, and wept.”

Added Time is fascinating and controversial account not just of the author’s rise to the top of the refereeing ladder but also of the politics and jostling for position at the top of the game.

Managers evidently have a huge behind-the-scenes influence as “stakeholders” in the Premier League which contributes 80 per cent of the running costs of the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Ltd). The Football League contributes 15 per cent and the FA just five per cent).

Mark may not have best pleased fellow referees with another frank comment.

“Sometimes, it is easier not to give a decision rather than give to one. That way it gets glossed over rather than analysed.

“And people who say you don’t give decision in the penalty area that you would give elsewhere are right - that is the pragmatism of refereeing sometimes.”

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