Category Archives: The Renegade

The Renegade Ref says They Are The Most Important People To You

It is easy to talk about the need to be a great communicator if you’re talking about club secretaries or players.  But the most important people on your team are your assistants. Do you ever consider how you speak to them?

Do you ensure that all of your communications with them are not only polite but also fun to have (for them) and easily understood?

Why is that?


If it is the observer’s fault that you have refereed badly you have given control of your career to the observer!

If it is the secretary’s fault, you have given control of your career to the secretary!

Likewise if it is the assistants fault, you have given control of your career to the assistant!


Take back control this season and take the blame for all of your bad performances, because when it goes well it is all you, so when it goes wrong it cannot be the assistants, the secretaries or the observer!

I am saying if the former is true – so the latter must be down to you and you alone.

If it is all down to you then if your assistants cause you challenges then you spoke to them wrongly! Normally this is boring them to tears and not being rude to them.

You bore them to tears with instructions that make you feel good rather than give them instructions designed to make them feel good.

How do I know this?

Because when I ask a referee do they listen to instructions when they are assistants they generally look down and shuffle their feet. They say they only listen to anything the referee does differently.

QUESTION: So how do you give instructions that get your assistants to listen to every last word of them?

ANSWER: You get them to give your instructions!


You get them to give your instructions by asking them questions about the different aspects of the instructions and also by telling stories about things you liked and things you didn’t like.

Example following:

SPEAKING TO AR1: What is the most important thing to you as a referee when spotting offside offences?

SPEAKING TO BOTH: Right we will (hold our flag or stay in line or etc, etc, etc.) as AR1 says because that is important to us as a team.

SPEAKING TO AR2: What is the most important thing to you as a referee when dealing with offences?

SPEAKING TO BOTH: Right we will (hold our flag or stay in line or etc, etc, etc.) as AR2 says because that is equally as important to us as a team.

And if either of them hasn’t mentioned your most important thing say it now.

SPEAKING TO BOTH (As an example): Remember that between us we would rather be late and right than early and wrong when giving offsides!

I saw an assistant who flagged too early and it caused the referee immense problems protecting the assistant for the next five minutes.  How do I know that? I was the assistant who flagged too early.


Two things to say about instructions: Always have a routine to follow and if you major on mass cons what does that say about your refereeing?

A good routine to follow is to go around the field of play: Start with admin, then go to the touchline (Throw-ins – hands and feet), then goal-line (goal kicks and corner kicks), then in-field (offsides & fouls), penalties and finally (very briefly) mass cons.

That way you will never be umming and arring when the secretary interrupts you because you will know what you’ve spoken about.

And to further illustrate this we are running a webinar about instructions very shortly which you will get told about. Currently I’m talking to the providers to ensure that you can logon to your PC, tablet or phone vey simply and can watch the PowerPoint and films easily and simply.


Because I don’t want you to blame me if it all goes wrong!

The Renegade Referee says Ask Yourself What The Players Want

This close season I’ve been struck by the number of referees who do not appear to be willing to referee differently and, in my opinion, will only get promoted because it is their turn.

Now this could be because that is the personality of the referee or the personality of their referee coach or they are just scared to put themselves out there for fear of failure.

The personality of the referee is important when it comes to how high they will climb in refereeing circles.  If they are scared of failing then they will not risk trying anything new on the field, and this could leave them stuck where they are.

Remember the old saying: if you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got!

Read this again please because it is important in refereeing and every part of your life.

Of course, when as a referee you do try something new and it comes off for you then that will become the norm for you as an official.

So if you want to get on – try something new and see what the reaction is.  New means something acceptable to the game (I don’t mean refereeing naked or using profane language or etc, etc, etc!)

What could you do that’s within the spirit of the game? Like commentating out loud or playing on even if a player has been pushed slightly or allowing free kicks to the defence to be taken from anywhere in the defending third – but remember every defending kick must come out of the penalty area!

I read this newsletter out to our resident referees and the level 5 wanted me to change the defending free kick placement to within 5 metres of the offence!

But if you listen to footballers – they seem to want to get the game playing as soon as possible (unless they’re winning with two minutes to go).  In this example, as the referee all you need to ensure is the side taking the free kick are not taking it from the wrong place to “take out” the opposition.

Get the game going as soon as possible in the defensive third is a good thing to try, but remember that if you get the ball correctly placed then you are being correct in Law, therefore an observer cannot mark you down (but the clubs can!)

Then we move onto the referee coach – their ideas about your role will influence how you referee.  If your coach has officiated or played at a higher level they will coach you in the ways that they wanted referees to be at that level; if your coach was always on the parks as a player and/or a referee they will want you to referee differently.

Neither is right or wrong – but the simple thing is to understand where they are coming from and ask yourself what do you want to achieve?

The most important thing is to adapt your officiating to the level of football you are officiating at – generally the more skilful the player or team – the more they want you to keep the game flowing.

I maintain that observers will simply watch your level of empathy and control of the players and ensure that you are giving the game what it expects.  So before your next game ask yourself: what do the players expect from us as the officials?

The Renegade Ref says it is not black and white!

Recently a member of the A&H staff published a Law question which I’ve repeated below.

“Sergio Aguero takes a penalty. Before the penalty is taken Gary Cahill encroaches. Aguero’s penalty hits the post and Aguero gets to the rebound first. Cahill then clears the ball off of the line, over the crossbar and out of play.

The referee must:

  1. Award a corner kick
  2. Send off Cahill for DOGSO
  3. Retake the penalty
  4. Award an Indirect Free Kick to the defence for a double touch

Now there are two answers to this question!

The question is: What MUST the referee do? And the answer is obviously 3) Retake the penalty!

And that is a great question, with the correct answer.

But what do the teams expect if Cahill has “only” encroached by a metre? The answer to us as active referees on pitch 7 of the local rec is 4.

Teams expect that a small encroachment is no encroachment; therefore the double touch is the only offence, in their minds, that has been committed.

Even that will need some explaining to the great unwashed because as seen on Sunday in the international rugby match (England versus Italy) players don’t know the Laws!

If we say that refereeing is about delivering “no surprises” then we give them an Indirect Free Kick for the touching it twice before anyone else has, if we say our job is to teach them the Laws then we have a retake for the encroachment!

Now this is an extreme example and we wouldn’t dream of doing anything like this, would we?

But what happens with throw-ins in our games?

The Law states that the ball must be thrown back in where it left the field of play – do we enforce this or do we allow the players to take the throw-in where all of the players expect it from?

In other words for throw-ins do we go with answer 4) rather than 3)?

What about the simple Law about the goalkeeper can only hold the ball for 6 seconds and us applying that or where is the correct position for a defensive free-kick when both sides want to get on with it?

It is us applying the practical over the technical, isn’t it?

And that’s the real joy of refereeing, learning what we have to do in all situations to keep the game moving along to a fair conclusion as far as we’re concerned and as far as the players are concerned.