‘Cut off the head of the snake’ is an idiom in which you remove the most dangerous opponent first, thereby nullifying the leader so other enemies are more easily defeated.
I wonder if it applies to more maggot-like creatures such as Mike Riley, the ‘leader’ of the ‘referees association’ the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL).
As Sky Sports News takes it upon itself to run a ‘Support The Ref’ campaign, perhaps PGMOL should recognise that Riley is widely viewed as incompetent, or even worse.
The standard of refereeing in the Premier League has arguably hit an all-time low this season.
Manchester City have suffered more than – or at least as much as – any team when it comes down to outrageous refereeing decisions in 2016/17.
When you see ‘stonewall’, ‘nailed on’ and ‘dead cert’ – the clichés come thick and fast – penalties not awarded, a club could be forgiven for thinking there was an agenda in play.
Raheem Sterling has been the focus for many a dubious decision from referees, who are totally unaccountable for their actions.
Nobody, other than Andre Marriner and his linesman, could deny Sterling’s penalty claim against Spurs, when Kyle Walker clearly shoved him in the 18-yard box. The Tottenham full back even admitted the offence after the match.
Who, other than Michael Oliver and his hapless assistant, didn’t see James Milner take Sterling’s legs from beneath him in Liverpool’s six-yard box on Sunday?
Oliver’s mistake was compounded by the fact Sergio Aguero was manhandled to the ground, literally a second beforehand, as the ball flashed across the Liverpool goal…making it two certain penalties in the blink of an eye. Neither was given.
The arrogant and obnoxious Mike Dean added insult to injury when Sterling was fouled by Swansea keeper, Lukasz Fabianski in City’s 2-1 win in February.
City’s number 7 hadn’t even appealed for the penalty and yet Dean made a point of booking him for diving – it beggared belief!
Contemptible ‘Altrincham fan’ Anthony Taylor engineered a ‘six point swing’ to Chelsea when the Londoners beat City 3-1 in December. Taylor declined to send off David Luiz for a red card offence on Sergio Aguero in the first half – a potential game changing decision.
Instead he ended up dismissing Aguero and Fernandinho in the latter stages while allowing Cesc Fabregas and Nathaniel Chalobah to escape similar punishments.
Perhaps the piece de la resistance so far this season, was Andre Marriner’s curious failure to see the infamous elbowing incident involving Aguero and West Ham’s Winston Reid last August.
Standing just 10 feet way, with a clear line of sight, Marriner claimed he hadn’t seen the clash, leaving the way clear for the FA to impose a three-match ban on Sergio, ruling him out of the Manchester derby.
Five months later and Marriner still hadn’t found his way to Specsavers, hence Sterling’s non-penalty against Spurs.
General Secretary of the Manchester City Supporters Club, Kevin Parker – a man who is highly respected – has written to Mike Riley on three separate occasions this season, querying the poor quality of referees and their assistants – and not only in relation to decisions that have gone against City.
Not once has Riley responded to Kevin. Is that in itself a measure of Riley’s arrogance, or maybe he’s too busy ensuring his Select Group Referees remain unaccountable for their wayward performances?
If a high profile organisation is hugely underperforming you’d normally expect heads to roll – so why is Riley still in post?
He oversees sub-standard individuals such as Taylor, Mason, Marriner, Dean – blimey the list goes on and on – so surely PGMOL needs to have a shake up and new leaders put in place?
Of course it’s desirable that referees are respected. They’re a quintessential ingredient in football – you can’t have a game without the officials – BUT PGMOL make it so difficult for managers, players and fans alike, to respect referees and their assistants!
Week after week, game after game these full time, well paid, officials are getting major decisions wrong!
The job of a referee and, to a lesser degree linesmen, isn’t easy but the levels of ineptitude are totally unacceptable.
Speculation about the integrity of big name officials is rife. Are some biased, even corrupt?
It’s high time for technology to be applied to ensure critical, game-defining, decisions are called correctly.
There’s too much at stake nowadays for so much trust and responsibility to ride on the shoulders of men who aren’t up to the job.
You only have to look at international rugby union – the TMO video review processes and the respect accorded to referees – to see to what PGMOL should aspire.
In life respect has to be earned – it’s not a given – and the rules apply to PGMOL as much as anyone else.
Former General Manager of PGMOL, Keith Hackett, even went so far as to say Michael Oliver’s ‘calamitous mistake-ridden performance’ in City’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool was down to ‘mental fatigue.’ The poor ref was tired – God give us strength!
It’s those at the top of the ‘profession’ who set the standards and lead by example.
With Riley as the head of referees and assistant referees, it’s increasingly difficult to take PGMOL seriously.
Never mind respect, it doesn’t even have credibility.
Riley does a disservice to referees from grassroots up to the top flight – it’s time for change, it’s time for him to go.
By David Walker
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu