Sunday, 2 April 2017

MARTIN ATKINSON: DON'T ACCUSE PREMIER LEAGUE REFS OF 'BOTTLING' DECISIONS

REFEREES and assistant referees came over well in tonight's Onside with Carragher and Neville on Sky Sports 1.

The chief executive of their organisation, PGMOL, Mike Riley, proved to be an engaging personality - as did such often-seen but never-heard officials as Martin Atkinson, Mike Dean, Anthony Taylor, Roger East, Stuart Attwell, Lee Probert, Craig Pawson, Bobby Madley, Mike Mullarkey, Steve Child and the only woman represented, Sian Massey-Ellis MBE.

Some of the insights were revealing.

After a bad tackle, a referee will sometimes take out the yellow card to demonstrate to  teammates of the injured party that he is taking disciplinary action and to discourage a potentially volatile situation becoming toxic.

But having done so, there are times, especially after seeing video replays, when, in retrospect, he realises that the chosen card should have been the red one.

Both Atkinson and Dean, two of our best referees, owned up to this, but, of course, at moments such as these, time to reflect is not a commodity available to the referees.

Atkinson said one of the pet hates of referees was when commentators accused them of "bottling"a decision.

"We wouldn't have got to where we are in football if we bottled decisions,"he insisted.

Mike Mullarkey, who ran one of the lines for Howard Webb in the 2010 World Cup Final, was particularly analytical on "tight" offside calls - an issue where there is often controversy.

Asked if there were any football grounds that posed particular difficulties, Sian Massey-Ellis - surely worthy of a TV programme in her own right - noted that Selhurst Park could be difficult
if there was a low sun.

She knows this from firsthand experience - she had to cover her eyes with her flag-free hand earlier this season for the match between home team Crystal Palace and Sunderland.

Which begs the question - who don't assistant referees wear caps in the same was as goalkeepers faced with the same low-sun situation?

The programme was not nearly as good as it might have been.

Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville were mostly superficial in their questions and should have been far more probing.

For instance, we need to know far more about prospects for video technology and where, in the Laws of the Game,  referees believe it most needs  to be applied without excessively interrupting the pace of the action.

In addition, Carragher, in particular, was far too keen to play to the camera - and this very quickly became grating.

However, the programme will have been useful if it  provides a stepping to improved future communications between match officials and the football-loving public.


Sian Massey-Ellis was on duty in yesterday's League Two match between Grimsby Town and Doncaster Rovers. Running the other line was Darren Cann, an assistant referee in the 2014 World Cup final, while Graham Scott was the referee. The fourth official was Amy Fearn.
                      











 

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