Former ref lambasts festive Premier League refereeing

The standards of some English Premier League referees were “bordering on appalling” during matches over the busy holiday period, according to former Fifa referee Keith Hackett, who has named five referees he says should be dropped.

But the organisation that controls the referees, Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL), has rejected Hackett’s claims, saying standards have risen since he stepped down as head of the organisation in 2010.

Hackett, who refereed the 1981 FA Cup final as well as matches in the European Championship and Olympic Games in 1988, wrote on his blog You are the Ref that he counted “over 20 major errors” during games played over Christmas.

He cited the “stupid” red card shown to Swansea City’s Wayne Routledge at Queens Park Rangers by Anthony Taylor on New Year’s Day, which has since been overturned, as being of particular concern.

“The latest big game decision error was the stupid dismissal of Wayne Routledge, who himself was on the receiving end of a reckless challenge,” he said. “It is unbelievable that a so-called top referee should make such a mistake.

“I see standards falling. Over the Christmas period, it reached standards that were bordering on appalling.”

‘Poor performance’
He went on to say “there was a pretty poor performance from Andre Marriner in the Manchester City vs Everton game [on December 6]. First of all, the failure to spot a challenge that resulted in Sergio Aguero having to go off, then a non-penalty decision.

“I was with a group of Fifa referees from Nigeria, who watched with amazement. Do you think I took joy in that?”

Marriner is one of the referees Hackett said should no longer officiate Premier League matches after the end of this season. The other four are Mike Jones, Lee Mason, Chris Foy and Lee Probert, who refereed last season’s FA Cup final. 

Hackett added that his successor as the head of PGMOL, Mike Riley, should be replaced.

“You can’t live on your reputation,” Hackett said of the referees. “At the moment, these guys are performing well below the level.”

But PGMOL said the accuracy of decision-making by referees in the Premier League was at an all-time high.

Their figures say accuracy on major decisions was up to 95% from 94.1%, accuracy on decisions in the penalty box stood at 98% and offsides were now 99% accurate compared with 92% when Hackett left PGMOL. – Reuters

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