The Renegade Ref says it’s all in the selling of it.

I was sitting watching the half time chat between Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright with the inward chuckle (well grimace) when our supposed experts misinform the great British public about what is and what is not the Laws of the game.  The game in question was West Ham United and Manchester City in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup.

This particular discussion centred around the West Ham player who was “wiped out” by the Manchester player, in the penalty area, crucially after he’d got his shot away. Gary (like you and me) thought it should be a penalty, whereas Alan and Ian subscribed to the view that as he’d got his shot away unchallenged it was not a penalty!

This creates problems for you and me on a Sunday morning when we correctly award the penalty!

You can hear the players shouting at you from here, saying such things as: “But Alan and Ian said it was not a penalty and they’re on the TV!”

This incident got me thinking about how to point out that you MUST deliver what the game expects; not what the Law states, if you want to be an upwardly mobile referee.

At our London FA training events we speak about good referees having on their tombstones the words “But I was correct in Law” and this is a good example. As a fellow referee (and observer) I will support you to the hilt if you give THE penalty but the clubs will be perplexed by the decision.

How do we sell the penalty when Alan and Ian have told us it’s not one?

That is the million dollar question we must answer if we want to get on!

But Alan and Ian are not all bad news for us – in fact this weekend just gone they – well Alan in particular – was like a refereeing brother to us!

Sam Allardyce came on the TV moaning about the fact that the referee should have stopped the play when his player was suffering with what looked like cramp.  We will ignore that the player managed to “struggle” back onto the field before signalling he was injured!

Alan came onto the TV and told us that Big Sam was wrong.  The referee can and should only stop the match for a serious injury. Well said Alan!

Now one suspects he’s got someone whispering in his ear – someone like an ex-FAPL referee – and that’s great news for you and me!  We can happily play on with the game because Alan has told the great unwashed it is okay to do so.

But let us go back to the unanswered question: how do we sell the penalty and push our refereeing forward?

We both know the correct answer is to give the penalty when the fouled player doesn’t score – if you’ve seen the challenge you have to give the penalty but in today’s climate it should only be a yellow card because the offender made an effort to play the ball.

And that has to be sold because Alan and Ian have told us that if the player got the shot away then we move to the next phase of play!  Sometimes Alan’s words leave us in a difficult situation – but as official’s we have to deal with it – but the important thing is to sell your decision to all those in the game.

Using such words as “I was playing an advantage” or “I was trying to keep the game flowing” are great selling phrases we can use to help sell our decision.

Obviously if the ball goes in the goal – that’s the simple job – give the goal and get back to the half way line unless the challenge leaves the scorer writhing in agony, which means you sort out the scorers injury and deal with the fouler as the game dictates.

I guess the thing that will stand you in good stead is knowing that all decisions need to be sold all of the time.  

If the games doesn’t expect it – you need to sell it and as if to underline that I asked my great mate Mark – who is a West Ham season ticket holder – who the player was who was fouled and he needed reminded of the incident because Feghouli (who was fouled by Clichy) had got his shot away and in Mark’s mind the referee had nothing to do as the error was the West Ham player who missed the goal!

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