Category Archives: Blog

So why do we?

During the World Cup I have been an England supporter (but I have been watching the referees as I am one of us!)

This morning I was interested to find that the Columbians were less than impressed with the referee for the match!

They (the Columbians) thought that the referee – being American – was biased against them.  It is funny that the English pundits thought he was biased against England!

So I am left with the questions: who would be a referee and why?

I thought the referee was weak (but I’ve never refereed a World Cup match) perhaps he was doing as he’d been told – either explicitly or not – and not sending anyone off.  Perhaps he felt that none of the incidents represented a red card offence.  Perhaps I’m being a biased Englishman thinking that the Columbian deserved a red card!

However, it does leave me with the questions: who would be a referee and why?

What can we learn, as we get ready for the new season?

I think the first thing is when a team wins you are the best referee in the world (and the converse is true: when they lose you are the worst!)

The second thing we can learn is: give what YOU see and don’t listen to supposed experts (like me).  Sometimes it’ll be correct and other times it’ll be wrong!

The third thing to learn concerns what you should read and not read.

Do NOT read any reports of the match! I know this from bitter experience.

The teams are not interested in you! They are only interested in winning (and so they should be) and we are only interested in ensuring that fair play rules.

But I’m still asking the questions “who’d be a referee and why?”

Why do I ask those questions? If we know why we referee, we should be a better referee.

And also we have to ask these questions with all of our decisions: do I want to win this battle? Will this battle win me the war? If the answer to both is “yes”, then stand your ground and ensure fair play wins the day; if the answer to the first question is “yes” but it will create a war is that something you want?

Of course, the second answer could be “no it doesn’t win me the war but it puts me on the way to winning it.”  Then you have to do your job.

And I have to tell you that you will have games where the answers are sometimes different! What I mean by that is: on Saturday the answer is YES, on Sunday the answer will be NO.

That’s called experience!

I’m still asking the question “who’d be a referee and why?”

And the answer is I DON’T KNOW!

Category: Blog, The Renegade

The Renegade Ref says You Can Be Wrong But Still Right!

Coached two games this weekend.

Both refereed excellently but both referees could improve the selling of their decisions, and notice I have spoken about the officials selling their decisions!

Sometimes you can make the incorrect decision and because you’re there everyone accepts the decision as correct.

If you think about it every decision is either correct or incorrect!

However, you can make the incorrect decision and get it accepted whereas sometimes you make the correct decision and get grief for it because you’re not selling the decision well.

Generally, the selling or not selling of the decisions is down to positioning of the referee or it could be inconsistency in their eyes – last time that was not a foul and this time it was.

On Saturday our referee gave the home side a free kick just outside the opposition penalty area, near to the goal line, and the away side conceded the equalizing goal from there.

It doesn’t matter that the home team were allowed three shots at goal before they scored the referee was blamed for the original free kick!

The challenge with the free kick was a simple one and it probably was a free kick but the referee was not in a good position to give the free kick.  Let me stress – it probably was a free kick but it was not accepted by the away side because the referee was not in a good position to give it.

As I keep saying when I’m talking to my referees – a defensive free kick is very rarely remembered, if a team scores from an attacking free kick it will never go away, ever!

That doesn’t mean you don’t give attacking free kicks! It means when you give an attacking free kick it most definitely was a free kick and you can sell it.

Our guy Saturday needed to be more “side-on” to sell it.  Just to re-iterate he probably was right with his decision but the away team told me they didn’t think it was a foul and I couldn’t say: “look where the referee was, he was a lot closer than me or you, so it must have been.”

Bear in mind that the credibility of the decision is as equally important as its accuracy.

But here’s thing that does my little brain in – regardless of where the referee was the game would have expected the official to give the defence a free kick.

Let us leave Saturday and go to Sunday. – this is how it looked – when the referee was standing next to the incident he gave a foul if it was a foul, when he was not next to the foul he didn’t give a foul if he could not be sure. Now this was perceived as inconsistent because that’s how it looked!

He was most certainly correct in Law but incorrect in the eyes of the clubs.

How do you combat “inconsistency” in your own performance?  (Bear in mind, you cannot be consistent with the referee last week because that’s impossible.)

First rule of consistency is remembering what you did last time. If you gave a foul last time either give it again or play on so loud everyone knows you’ve made a decision.

If you do nothing then you look inconsistent, whereas if you either give the foul or play on you look consistent.  In my experience it doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong!

Now both the incidents could have been read correctly by the official, the one close to him was indeed a foul and the one away from him was a fair challenge, but the unfortunate thing is that the clubs thought he was inconsistent because he didn’t do anything with the second foul!

You can say if the referee did both things well surely he should be rewarded for that – and you’d be correct but clubs do not think like that!

Finally let me leave you with a thought – why am I right when I am wrong and on the flipside wrong when I am right?  That is the conundrum that you have to work out the answer to if you want to move up the leagues.

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!