Tag Archives: successful refereeing


I’ve seen two referees in the last 3 weeks who were both guilty of the crime – yes you’ve read it right – the crime of not getting close to the play, plus neither of them appeared to know that 100/1 shots do occasionally win.

Let’s start putting some flesh on “The Crime”.

Sometimes it’s committed because the referee is not fit enough, other times it’s committed because the referee lacks the awareness of “there could be a potential flashpoint so I’ll get closer to the action.”

FITNESS – The other Sunday when sitting in a FA Core meeting someone said “if they took a photograph of the teams would you be out of place in it?”

Looks are not a measurement of fitness, but our game (refereeing) is built on perception.  Do you look as fit as the players do? Actually, you want to look the fittest person in the photograph.

Then of course, you want to back that look up with fitness.  And here’s the kicker – we can all get fitter than we are now, it will not happen tomorrow but if we persist in our training – pushing it up bit by bit we will get fitter.

It’s the same as losing weight – if you lose an ounce a day, you’ll lose over 1½ stones in a year.

So take the longer view to fitness and just improve one little bit every time you run and very soon you’ll be giving Mo Farah a run for his money, presuming someone sponsors him to drink eight pints a day and he sticks to it!

Have a goal to either run a bit further in your training time or take less time to cover the distance you run for or make sure your heart rate remains the same over time but the run is getting more difficult.

All of the above will ensure that you are getting fitter.  And remember you’re not looking to win the gold at the next Olympics; you’re looking to gradually improve over time.

The next thing that creates “The Crime” is either laziness or lack of awareness.  If there is at least one player from the opposition near the ball, we have the potential to have a flashpoint.

99 times out of 100 the player with the ball will safely play it before the opposition get close enough to cause you a problem, but on that 100th time all hell will break loose and if you’re sitting in a deck chair on the half way line waiting for the ball to be played (along with the rest of the teams) your match control will be shot.

So always get close to the ball – even if it is obvious to everyone else that nothing will happen, this way you’ll increase the chances of nothing happening because you’re there.

That way, when it does happen you’re on top of it and even if it doesn’t happen the observer will/should say “nothing happened because the referee was there!”

On one of the games I was watching – the referee turned down a penalty but the team who would have benefitted had a legitimate shout at the referee because he was in the car park (in other words – he was not close to the action!), whereas they would/should have said “I thought it was a penalty but look where the referee was!”


Do you execute Law or Apply Law? Part 1

IFAB this summer published a new set of Laws which have been re-written so the world knows the Laws and they designed them to make our lives easier!
I’m all for an easier life but recently I had a lawyer sitting in one of my lectures and she said that the sentences stating that “a goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when bouncing it on the ground or throwing it in the air” means that a goalkeeper can throw the ball 65 feet in the air and be considered to be in control.
The next sentence says: A goalkeeper cannot be challenged by an opponent when in control of the ball with the hands.
What would you do if the goalkeeper throws the ball that far in the air and is challenged by an opponent?
The reason I ask is a simple one: too many referees are stuck at Level 4 and I get told that “but the observer backed them”.
If you’re correct in Law of course the observer must back you, he cannot state incorrect Law. However, you have to ask “did the clubs back me or even understand what I was doing?
Thankfully I’ve never seen a goalkeeper throw the ball in the air to retain control, so it is safe to talk about it but the question you must ask (if you want to get on in the game as a referee) is: what do the clubs want?
In our example everybody would think the goalkeeper can be challenged fairly if throwing the ball 65 feet in the air, so if you give the goalkeeper a free kick and tell them that it is illegal to challenge the goalkeeper they will think you’re mad and punish you via your marks.
Don’t allow that – by all means give a foul on the goalkeeper and probably warn him that’s the last time “I’m getting you out of jail!”
Now you’ve applied Law correctly, you’ve not alienated the clubs and hopefully you’re on your way up. Of course, when you get on Match of the Day and they can refer to those Laws in the 6 hours between the match and the show being aired you may have to do it differently.
In the meantime, apply law throughout with a modicum of “what does the game expect?” rather than just executing Law.

The foul mouth player

Last Sunday afternoon I had arrived back from coaching referees at the Charlton Academy when I received a phone from an observer asking for advice.

He had just watched a L7 referee who had conveniently ignored 15 occurrences of the F word from a player at his teammates (I’m led to believe that the F word was the nicest word that he uttered!) and then after 85 minutes conveniently did nothing when this player lunged into a challenge.

Fortunately, the opponent saw the lunge coming and avoided any contact with our foul mouthed player.

Now I know some of you will say that the referee should have dismissed the player for his language so the challenge would never have happened.

I cannot argue with that logic.

Here’s the paradox – both of the teams appeared happy with the performance of our colleague, the L7 referee.

However, when you factor into the argument that his side were losing 10-0 you can begin to understand why he was berating his own side.

The question here is how do you deal with both situations and still maintain control and still keep your career moving forward?

First of all let’s deal with the bad language – rule number 1 is ‘don’t ignore it’ – as a referee who I worked with told me “if you allow a player to act in a certain way he will think it’s okay to continue to act that way.”

So nip it in the bud – now taking action could simply be stopping the game and warning the player, it could of course be stronger.

This action will upset the referees and observers out there who believe that bad language should be dealt by a red card every time, but we’re talking about having a feeling for the game and acknowledging foul language should be curtailed to the acceptance of all of the participants.

So if you ask the player to moderate what he/she’s saying as a first step you are showing an understanding towards the play and players.

If he/she says “but we’re all players here” you can quickly say “I have to also worry about the spectators but more importantly any members of the public who maybe in earshot.”

Let’s move onto the lunge challenge.  There is a misconception among footballers that if there is no contact there is no foul.  You and I know this to be wrong!

If you see a tackle that could endanger the safety of an opponent it is your duty to take action.

The Laws tell you that it must be a red card! If you’re refereeing very senior football the players cannot argue if you show a red card, however as you move down the ranks the players can think “no contact” means “no foul”.

Now you can educate them – and watch your marks head south – or you can educate them and keep your club marks heading upwards!


By telling the player that they could be shown a red card but because you didn’t make contact I’m ONLY showing you a yellow card.

Note I’m talking in colours of cards and I’m telling the player how lucky he is to only been cautioned not sent off!