November 11th, 2010
05:30 PM ET

Should referees be relegated too?

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has proposed a shake-up of the refereeing system in England. (Getty Images)
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has proposed a shake-up of the refereeing system in England. (Getty Images)

It's a brilliant idea - a league table for referees, with promotion and relegation at the end of each season so that the English Premier League gets the best-performing officials.

After reading about the proposition by Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, I was surprised to learn that there is no pecking order in terms of who gets what game, as it seems like I see Howard Webb on my television almost every time one of the big-four clubs takes the field.

However, according to the Professional Game Match Officials board, which looks after the referees, there is no such thing as a hierarchy among top-fight officials. Instead, a list of names for all matches is drawn from a select group that is sent out every Monday. So, technically, the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United do not get the best of the best every week.

At present, clubs and managers do get the opportunity to assess officials after every game, but Pulis wants to take it a step further by giving the clubs the chance to vote on officials at the end each season, with the lowest-ranked officials demoted to the Championship (the English second division) - from which the top refs would become their replacements.

Personally, I think that’s as it should be. Too often in football, referees make mistakes that come at a huge cost to the clubs, whether in terms of points lost or players lost to suspension, and though they are sometimes taken off the top list for a short period for such transgressions, there is not a system transparent enough to deal with the situation. Yes, they may be pilloried in the press or hammered by the fans, and they presumably get some kind of internal review, but over the following weeks, months and years, there they are still officiating the big games, and clubs currently have no influence in their selection.

Therefore, a league table should placate those people who believe that referees - unwittingly or otherwise - have their biases, and are influenced by the status of the teams they’re officiating and the clout of the big-name managers. Often it may not be intentional, but getting dazzled by star power is only human nature, and any system that makes an official question the motives for his judgment is surely only a failsafe that will make him do his job better.

So good on you Tony Pulis for turning a negative (Stoke being denied a penalty against Sunderland at the weekend) into a positive, with a valid suggestion that could be adopted throughout the game, never mind just in the Premier League.

Players, managers, fans and even directors are required to be accountable, so why not the refs?

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. mac penny

    Yes i strongly agree that referees should be relegated because of some poor judgements some times which causes teams alot.just look at the game between Spurs and Man utd that was not a good dicision from the ref.Secondly during the World cup we all saw the game England against Germany the disallowed goal that cost England alot.i thing with this dicision referees should be relegated.
    mac penny Germany

    November 11, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  2. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    In many of our educational institutions like universities, colleges and centres of excellence, students are requested to evaluate the lecturers, readers and professors at the end of their courses. Such evaluation does help to assess the quality, relevance and performance of the deliverer of goods. Referees have an important role to play and an evaluation of their performance would be a step forward.

    November 12, 2010 at 8:19 am | Reply
  3. jorgen friis

    I support TB's idea wholeheartedly. In fact ,I think its an excellent idea and
    just wonder why it has never been introduced. Why should refs be exempted? Some of the refereeing is downright atrocious and these guys live to ref another match i.e nothing happens to them whilst the teams and players suffer the consequences. Its 'bout time the refs get to be evaluated and once they collect enough demerit points, or whatever, they
    should be sidelined. Their roles on the field are extremely important and
    their decisions can, and will, make or break teams. They should be evaluated for their on-field performance and penalized for substandard performances. I think its a great idea. Go for it

    November 12, 2010 at 11:01 am | Reply
  4. marcos from Brazil

    Great idea! I totally agree with everything that has being said about the subject.

    November 13, 2010 at 9:33 am | Reply
  5. LC

    Talking about subjectivity, can anyone guarantee that club officials will not be subjective when they vote for their 'best' and 'worst' referees? I think a ranking system is a good idea but it should be based on the referees' track record, such as how many blunders each one has in their record, not based on what the clubs prefer. I personally 'referee relegation' doesn't really help anything. The refs should get minus points for their blunders and pluses for their brilliant jobs. Those who get numerous minuses can only referee a limited number of games. Why should only the famed and wealthy clubs get the best? Just because they bring in more money???

    November 13, 2010 at 11:25 am | Reply
  6. David Saxon Jones

    I have said this for long time. Refs do need to be accountable and a league table would be the fairest or best way to gauge a refs performance throughout the season. Should the clubs vote? Well, they certainly deserve a vote. But as we have index's for players as to how many times a player shoots, on target, off target, passes complete etc, why can't we have the same for refs from the same people who index the players and use their scoring system to decide how many points a ref gets. The FA could get the 3rd vote, the refs authority have a 4th and of course the away team gets the 5th vote and so we would have 5 different voters simply giving their score out of 5 after the game. A total Collective of 0-10 points = a loss, 11-15 = draw and 16-25 is a win

    November 14, 2010 at 7:41 am | Reply
  7. Bogere Shariff

    Referee is aiways the last man when it comes to making decesions on pitch durind play. Yes mistakes are madeand referees should always be questioned,i think.But,still doesnt change a thing they make the decesions on pitch during play,right or wrong,they are the last men.

    November 18, 2010 at 5:43 am | Reply

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