Oxford United manager Karl Robinson may find himself in trouble with the FA after comments made to the press in the wake of his side’s disappointing 1-0 defeat at Gillingham on Saturday.
Brendon Hanlon’s fifth goal of the season in the eighty-ninth minute eased the Gills relegation fears and dropped Oxford back into the relegation zone.
Robinson felt his team should have had a penalty in the fifty-third minute when Gillingham keeper Tomas Holy appeared to push Jerome Sinclair. In comments to the press which have since been picked up by the national radio station, Talksport, Robinson said this of referee Ollie Yates and the penalty decision that went against Oxford. ‘It’s an embarrassment, it really is.’
‘The referee will get away with it; he’ll referee again next week. He was poor. Get rid of him, sack him. Managers get sacked; why can’t referees be sacked?’
‘We’ve had him three times now – he’s been horrendous in all three. I want our players, to be honest, I want them to have a bit of class and dignity, but it doesn’t get you anywhere with these referees, unfortunately.’
‘The penalty we should have had for the foul on Jerome Sinclair is one of the worst I’ve never been given.’
The U’s were looking to claim three wins in a row for the first time since October 2017 and pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing stages. Holy made a fine fingertip save to push Jordan Graham’s effort over the bar with fifteen minutes remaining.
Further chances ensued as Garbutt fired wide after a storming run through midfield and Gavin Whyte failed to connect properly with Sinclair’s delivery across the face of the goal in the dying embers of the game.
Gills striker Tom Eaves had earlier missed his third penalty of the season after Simon Eastwood saved his effort from twelve yards. The referee gave the spot-kick after Rob Dickie’s clumsy challenge on Hanlon.
Robinson did not argue with the penalty given against the U’s and thought his side were unlucky not to get something from the game but was critical of his team’s attacking execution. He said ‘I thought we were the better team.’
‘If I had a criticism it’s that we took too many passes in the final third. We don’t ask enough questions of the opposition goalkeeper.’
There is a convincing argument that the quality of refereeing in the lower leagues is poor.
However, comments as strong as Robinson’s, made under intense pressure and in the heat of the moment will do nothing to improve standards.
Only when the EFL introduce professional referees in League’s One and Two will standards improve.
It is also down to the FA to make refereeing more accessible and attract better candidates.
They also need to stamp out the endless criticism from professional players and managers which sets the tone for the culture that sees referees under attack at a grassroots level.
In last summers World Cup no referee from this country was deemed not good enough by FIFA to referee a match at the Finals. The reason is the standard of refereeing in this country is appalling across the board and only when the football authorities address this problem will the situation improve.