So, Keith Hackett wants the BBC to stop criticizing his referees eh? Well, like I said last week, if that’s going to happen, we need the match officials to sharpen up a bit. This weekend, much like any other footballing weekend, has seen a couple of incidents that have really stuck in my throat. The first referee under deserved scrutiny is the hapless Uriah Rennie.
Rennie is facing a drop from the Premiership over a glaring error that enabled Newcastle to fight back for a 2-2 draw with West Ham. His mistake in allowing James Milner’s goal to stand when Scott Parker was clearly interfering with play in an offside position is also likely to be used as a demonstration video for referees on how not to apply football’s most complicated law. If West Ham are relegated by a couple of points, don’t be surprised if Uriah takes some heat.
This glaring gaffe was described last night as "an appalling piece of refereeing" by one former official, Kevin Lynch. The referees’ chief, Keith Hackett, has a policy of temporarily removing officials from the top flight in such instances and Rennie is almost certain to find himself demoted to the Coca-Cola League for a fortnight at least.
"People claim the law is confusing but in this instance it is very clear, leaving no room for misinterpretation, because there was interference," said Lynch. "The assistant was quite right to put up his flag, in my opinion. To overrule him was extremely poor refereeing – a big mistake."
This is where I get angry. Just how acceptable is it to send Rennie to The Championship? Games lower down the league are just as important as the Premiership matches. By admitting that Rennie is incompetent (why else would you demoted him?) it hardly seems fair to send him somewhere else. The only difference in sending him to Coventry (quite literally) is that he will come under less scrutiny. This won’t necessarily make him a better referee. Surely a review, then a one-match ban would be more appropriate? Like a player who constantly gets sent off, it would tarnish his career and further suspensions would lead his employers to consider his future at the club. This doesn’t happen with officials. They merely get taken out of the spotlight. It’s not enough.
In another show of inconsistency, Alan Wiley sent off El-Hadji Diouf for abuse. Now, looking at the footage, it seems that Diouf appealed a decision and then told Wiley to "fuck off". Now, whilst I do agree that players should not abuse the officials, it is interesting to note that during the Man United/Arsenal game, Thierry Henry stayed on the pitch after calling the ref’ "a fucking prick" after he failed to win a penalty. In fact, the level of swearing at the ref that generally goes on in Man United games leads many fans to believe that there is a two tier rule book in the Premiership. Wayne Rooney, notorious for giving the officials hell, gets away with it time and time again. Of course, it’s not just Manchester United who do this. Every club is guilty of it. Referee’s are often surrounded by players debating a decision, but how many result in red cards? Not enough. However, Diouf it would seem, was sent off because his reputation preceded him. Surely, the officials should be approaching the game with a clean slate? UEFA have called for more protection for officials and I’m not calling for leniency on abuse to referees, but consistency in their decisions. What do you think? [Mof Gimmers]