Beat around the Bush

I WOULD like to know: should referees apologise for errors in their decision-making during a match?

I read a disturbing article last week, in a local Portsmouth newspaper which I accessed online, about how Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill received an email apology from the referee’s assessor after their home game against QPR in November.

The apology was for a penalty that the referee had awarded against Portsmouth’s Liam Lawrence at the end of the game. Portsmouth were, as you’ll recall, 1-0 up, but the penalty meant QPR levelled the game and so our unbeaten run continued unabated.

And why was the email sent? Because the referee’s assessor thought the penalty should not have been awarded! This really shocked me.

What on earth is going on when an assessor sends an apology for a decision made by the match referee? I understand that the assessor is appointed to assess the referee’s performance, but I didn’t think that it was in his remit to apologise on behalf of the ref!

And if it is, then where is QPR’s apology for the fact that the same referee ordered Portsmouth’s penalty, which had been well saved by Paddy Kenny, to be re-taken due to some unknown reason, for which there didn’t seem any obvious evidence.

How does it help our game when a manager receives a written apology for a perceived wrong? Cotterill complained; Dave Jones complained after Cardiff were denied a penalty in their recent match against us (when Jay Bothroyd was fouled by Matt Connolly late in the game).

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Has he received an apology? And if Jones has, did Neil Warnock receive one for the two penalties we weren’t awarded in the same game?

Over a season, all teams suffer the injustice of incorrect decisions that may have a bearing on the final outcome of the game. QPR have suffered many such decisions – and I am no shrinking violet when it comes to letting the ref know how I feel at these times!

But, so long as humans are still making these potentially game-changing, split-second decisions, as opposed to modern technology; then surely all in football must accept that decisions will be subject to human error and that is part of the ‘beautiful game’.

I think an apology undermines the present system, for all its imperfections, and also sets a dangerous precedent.

But please remind me of this when next I am upset by an outrageous decision, which may cost QPR precious promotion points! And I will need reminding!