Mark Halsey column: Some of our referees need a bit of loving and some need a kick up the backside

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Overall the standard of officiating in the Premier League, Football League and lower down is on the decline.

I think we have got some good referees, but I think it’s the leadership and direction at PGMOL that’s the problem.

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Referees are officiating with no confidence. When do you see a ref go out today with a smile, and having a laugh with the players? You can do that, and referee with common sense.

It comes from the management.

Michael Oliver is by far our best referee, streets ahead of anyone else. Michael and Anthony Taylor are going to the Euros this year, but Anthony Taylor hasn’t had his best season. He’s not giving the big decisions.

There was a clear penalty yesterday at Leicester when there was a foul on Jamie Vardy. Anthony had a great view and he gave nothing.

It’s VAR intervention that helps him in this situation, and it’s not the first time. The same thing has happened with him in the Champions League.

Mark Halsey
Former Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Halsey is a columnist for

I think it’s a confidence issue with our referees, which comes from the coaching. PGMOL have got coaches looking after the referees who have never officiated at the top level before.

Referees are like players in a dressing room. Some need a bit of loving and some need a kick up the backside.

Look at Mike Dean, very experienced referee, over 500 games. He’s made quite a few errors recently and that’s unlike him, but you have to know when to retire.

When the time comes to stamp your authority on the game you can do that without a yellow card. You can do it verbally. There are far too many yellow cards this season and that, once again, comes from the leadership and direction at PGMOL.

VAR has left everybody confused this season. There needs to be a lot more training and education because it’s a dedicated profession.

You have your active referees and your referees that have retired that work at Stockley Park. There’s an abundance of recently retired officials, including myself, Lee Probert and Robert East that could be used.

One has to be asked why they aren’t being utilised.

Lee Mason has been appointed as a dedicated VAR official, but he hasn’t done any VAR work in the last three to four months. His last VAR duty was the Tomas Soucek fiasco where he recommnded a VAR check for an act of violent conduct, and it was never that.

Why has he not done any games or had any training or education over the last few months?

We aren’t going to see any wholesale changes within the PGMOL structure and we are suffering massively because of that.

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