Premier League referees need more help to avoid costly decisions

Goal-line technology has been introduced but it should only be the start (©GettyImages)

During the last round of fixtures in the Premier League there were a fresh batch of debatable decisions handed out by referees, as with nearly every other week of the campaign.

For example in the game at Turf Moor between Burnley and Palace the officials failed to spot Scott Arfield throwing defender Joel Ward off the ball for his side's second goal. Similarly on Monday at Goodison Park, Everton should have been awarded another penalty when West Brom defender Claudio Yacob pushed Stephen Naismith.

Even Arsene Wenger admitted that his side were fortunate to be awarded a penalty when Nacho Monreal went down inside the box from a Vincent Kompany challenge at the Etihad Stadium.

So with there being such a large number of contentious decisions taking place, is it really all just the fault of officials? Well, absolutely not.

The average age of referees taking charge of games at the weekend in the Premier League was above 38, older than all active outfield players in the division.

In that case, should one really expect them to keep up with 20 outfield players in peak physical condition for 90 minutes on the move? The are not elite athletes.

Understandably so you do expect these top referees to maintain a certain standard and they undergo stringent fitness tests. But at the same time these officials desperately need support from the wonders of the modern-day.

Move out of the dark ages

Technology has flourished unimaginably since the 1960s & 70s, so why is football still stuck in that time? Yes we do have goal-line technology now, but what the game really needs is video replay and video referral to support the officials.

In cricket, rugby and tennis, the officials have the privilege of this technology despite already having the advantage of standing still when making the decisions. So isn't it time football adopted the same approach?

Imagine how much good it would do if referees could get a second look at the incident so as to make the right decision. It would lead to more correct penalty decisions, red cards and even help us in our fight against simulation.

Studies also show that fatigue plays a part in the ability to make the correct decisions. So in the most crucial of time, with the clock ticking down and tiredness setting in, errors are to be expected.

Under these circumstances, the ability to make a decision with the help of instant replays instead of simply by one look with a fatigued body and mind will be a welcome relief for referees.


Of course bringing in this technology will take time. After all it took an age for the goal-line system to be approved and applied. But the fact of the matter is that it is rarely used. 90 percent of the crucial decisions take place on other areas of the pitch.

But there could be progress. PGMOL chief Mikey Riley has visited Holland recently to oversee a trial system for the fourth official to use video technology. Could it, perhaps, be implemented?

All things considered, the FA and FIFA should try and speed up the process to bring this kind of technology into the fold, so we can decrease the amount of controversial decisions that turn into game changing moments during every other match week.

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