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NLP Column 4th October 2016

nlp-mattbadcock-headerSOME of us know so much about football and its rules that we don’t need to bother with a refereeing course. We just know.

We could all be doing a much better job than the idiot in the middle. It’s a fact. Part of being a football fan.

The truth is, while you may think the referee at the match you’re at today is totally clueless, they have at least put the hard yards to get to their current level.

It all starts by turning up alone at a field on a cold December morning to try and keep control of 22 players, who generally can’t keep the ball within the white lines.

Over time they work up the officiating ladder, where the dubious pleasure of being told you’re rubbish by a bloke walking past with his dog multiplies into people who have paid to watch.

And everyone knows the view in the stand from 80 yards away is much better than being out on the grass, ten yards away.

Alas, there will always be those head-scratching decisions. The ones that, even as a neutral reporter, are so frustrating. ‘Just what has the referee seen there?’

The only way we find out is when the managers speak after. It means we also hear it with their personal – dare I say, biased – view. And who can blame them?

What I really want to hear from is the decision maker. Not so they can be asked about the last time they went to the opticians. It’s more about gaining an insight into why decisions were made, what the rule actually is, and what is their view.

A referee’s view is seemingly treated like a dangerous substance. But could it actually help their cause?

Officials aren’t exactly growing on trees and without them the game can’t run. If football fans are able to get an insight into the job and gain an appreciation for what it involves, it might even encourage some more people to pick up a whistle.

The wall-to-wall coverage of the Premier League means referees are under incredible scrutiny. All of them started in Non-League football.

Why not give those starting out the experience of coming out and speaking to the media about the game. So when they get to the top it’s not an unfamiliar or as daunting prospect.

It also might show we don’t know as much as we thought.

Published by Russell Eynon