As the chant “You’re not fit to referee,” echoed around the Emirates in London on Saturday, referee Chris Foy limped off with what was reported as a calf injury.
Foy was replaced by fourth official Anthony Taylor in the 60th minute of Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over West Ham but maybe the Gunners’ supporters were on to something. So the question remains, are they fit to referee? The latest setback comes just two weeks after referee Phil Dowd was taunted with the same chants after a knee injury forced him out of a February 28th match between West Bromwich Albion and Southampton.
While there has been much discussion of why today’s professional players are playing too many games and suffering from fatigue and burnout, are the same problems being ignored for our referees? Undeniably yes. Along with the recent spat of injuries there have also been too many bizarre and controversial calls by our beloved men in black recently as the lengthy Premier League season reaches the stretch run.
Just like so many injured players, the referees are seeing action in too many games and have reached the breaking point physically and mentally. Each season we see a recurrence of this scenario. The referees usually start the season strong, generating little controversy, but as we progress into the final half of the season the cracks begin to show and they suffer their biggest meltdowns at a time when competent judgement is needed most.
While it’s doubtful there will ever be a reduction in the number of games or a shortening of the regular season - due to Premiership owners and executives’ insatiable lust for money - a solution to the referee burnout dilemma needs to be found.
One simple answer would be to add more match officials to the Premier League refereeing pool. Thus referees like Foy (who actually appeared to be holding his groin in pain and not his calf), Dowd and others who are suffering physical and mental malaise can take some time away from the game to recover. This would pay immediate dividends. Anyone who has worked in a stressful office or factory environment knows that regular breaks increases worker productivity and reduces injury occurrence. Without a reduction in their workloads referees in all of today’s major competitions are doomed to repeat the same mistakes and suffer the same breakdowns each season further aggravating the fans and also justifying the need for this website.
While it is unlikely greedy Premiership executives and owners would ever push a shortened domestic season as a solution to address both player and referee injury and fatigue, adding a few more referees makes the most sense.
CAST YOUR VOTE HERE IN THE POLL FOR WORST BPL REFEREE:
Who is the worst referee in the English Premier League?
- Paul Tierney (0%, 3 Votes)
- Craig Pawson (1%, 8 Votes)
- Roger East (1%, 8 Votes)
- Robert Madley (1%, 10 Votes)
- Lee Probert (2%, 15 Votes)
- Jon Moss (2%, 22 Votes)
- Chris Foy (3%, 27 Votes)
- Lee Mason (3%, 28 Votes)
- Neil Swarbrick (3%, 30 Votes)
- Andre Marriner (3%, 30 Votes)
- Mike Dean (3%, 31 Votes)
- Phil Dowd (4%, 39 Votes)
- Michael Oliver (4%, 41 Votes)
- Mark Clattenburg (5%, 45 Votes)
- Mike Jones (6%, 54 Votes)
- Anthony Taylor (6%, 56 Votes)
- Martin Atkinson (17%, 162 Votes)
- Kevin Friend (34%, 318 Votes)
Total Voters: 927