The standard of refereeing in the lower division has been brought under the spotlight recently, with high profile moans by both Notts County and Lincoln City following big decisions.
There’s a sympathy for referees from inside the clubs, but it only extends so far and often referees can make decisions and never appear to be admonished for them.
In light of recent calls to ban substitutions after the 90 minute mark, Port Vale striker Tom Pope has suggested a change of his own. He believes referees should be have to do a post-match interview in exactly the same way the players and manager does, to be able to explain their decisions.
“Managers and players are put on the spot, especially at the highest level, to explain their decisions or mistakes after any game,” he told the Stoke Sentinel. “But it’s important to remember that they’re also there to get praise for getting things right. At the moment there is a barrier around referees and that’s no good for anyone. It’s us and them.”
He believes referees being asked about decisions, and giving answers, would break down the barriers that currently exist.
“I am convinced that people would be more understanding if officials could spell out, for example, that they didn’t give that handball because it was from too close, didn’t give a penalty because such and such – or, even admit that they should have done.”
It’s a fair point, but until match officials are made full time, the standard is never going to improve. There’s some excellent referees in the lower divisions, but there’s some terrible ones too. After all, who’d be a ref?
If they made it full time they’d attract a better quality of person and give the ones currently not up to speed a fighting chance of getting better.