Are Tony Pulis’ views so farfetched?

Stoke City boss Tony Pulis has proposed a radical shake up of how referees are assessed in the Premier League, proposing that there should be a relegation system where the referees who have performed the worst over a season are relegated to the Championship. The proposal comes after a number of high profile incidents where Stoke have been on the end of some very poor referring decisions.

“It cannot be right that these decisions consistently go on without being addressed,” he told Sky Sports News ahead of the clash with Birmingham on Tuesday.

He explained: “Over the weekend I have thought about it and I want to be constructive, so I think we should put in place a system where every Premier League club has a vote at the end of the season on referees, and the bottom three referees should be relegated to the Championship and the top three referees from the Championship should be promoted.”

It is not right to place referees under such pressures. The problem with the proposal is who will mark the referees? If the managers are involved, a massive bone of contention arises. For example, take Mark Clattenburg’s decision for Nani’s goal at Old Trafford. Harry Redknapp blasted the ref for making the wrong call, whilst Sir Alex Ferguson concluded that the referee had made the correct decision, in the laws of the game. That decision is based on opinion. Some will say he got it right, others will disagree but it is wrong that the referee could be at risk of relegation by the say so of managers. The relationship between managers and referees is strained enough without bringing in such complicated measures.

As well as this, managers, players and fans all want to see the referee use as much common sense as possible when referring the game. If this system was brought into place, every single decision the referee took could be examined. This could lead to referees slowing the game down, making sure that every decision is as clinical as possible. Of course we want to see as many decisions as possible dealt with correctly but at the cost of common sense? It is a dangerous policy, and one that the Football Association shouldn’t take seriously.

However, this debate hopefully will open referees up. After games, what is wrong with the referee coming out and explaining a decision? It would save us all thirty minutes of Andy Gray ref bashing to start. Secondly, it would clear situations up. The more we speculate about referee’s decisions the easier it becomes to level abuse at them. On past occasions when referee’s have come out and explained decisions, the whole atmosphere is calmed. If we know why the referee came to a certain conclusion then we accept it and move on. The referee shouldn’t have to explain every single decision but it would be obvious to everyone the major decision over the course of a weekend that would need clarity.

Referees must be accountable for the job they are doing, that is obvious. Is it fair to judge certain referee’s so openly. If a referee makes a high profile mistake, they are moved off top flight duties. After all we are involved in a sport that is based on opinion, and we all see decisions in different ways. So referee’s make mistakes, but we shouldn’t lower the standard of our game to punish them so openly.

No referee does it on purpose, or have a vendetta against a team. Stoke City are on a bad run of form – of course Tony Pulis is deflecting attention away from that. We should not take these proposals seriously. We need to get behind the men in black, rather than hang them out to dry. Mistakes are a fact of life. Until we introduce technology to help the referee’s we have to accept that mistakes are an inevitable part of English football.

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