Are referees really getting worse? xyz

May 25th, 2010 2 Comments »
Referee holding a red card

Cheerio, cheerio!

I recently received an email asking if this site would support some guy on his crusade to prove that referees show a bias towards Rangers. I had to ask a few times before he supplied examples and it turned out he was a Celtic fan who was logging every vaguely dodgy decision made in Rangers’ favour.

I couldn’t help out the poor chap. As much as I do believe there is a bias in favour of Rangers, I think it applies equally to Celtic and to a (much) lesser extent Hibs and Hearts. I don’t believe that it is a deliberate conspiracy by referees, however.

Referees have always been the source of much fans ire. We’ve heard all the eyesight related jokes down the years. Blind jokes, glasses jokes etc. In recent times Specsavers have even sponsored Scottish referees. I don’t believe that the referees in Scotland have all had laser eye surgery or anything but I don’t think they’ve really become worse either.

The game has become faster, the rules more complex, pressure from the media has intensified and demands from the SFA have increased. On top of this, players have become more demanding, better at play acting and better able to manipulate the rules and more sophisticated at influencing the poor old ref. In the meantime we still expect him to give perfect decisions 100% of the time.

When I am sitting at home watching a game with replays in slow motion from every conceivable angle, often I still can’t decide on the correct decision. Would I be able to make that decision with 50,000 fans screaming at me and a group of aggressive players in my face whilst trying to maintain some degree of order at the same time. The answer is, without a doubt, no.

I think that when playing at home Rangers and Celtic get a bigger portion of these sorts of decisions where the referee genuinely doesn’t know what the correct decision is. He has to make a decision in a split second and sub-consciously, it’s easy to be swayed by the 50,000 home fans who all screamed for the handball or penalty or whatever at the same time. This probably happens at most grounds – the bigger your support the more likely you are to get decisions in your favour.