Referees face censure for errors

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The Independent Online

Premiership referees who make major errors during games now face suspensions and a loss of match fees.

Premiership referees who make major errors during games now face suspensions and a loss of match fees.

It is understood that one official has already been a victim of the tougher scrutiny and was left off the list this month following a series of poor performances, capped by a widely publicised mistake.

The referee's final "crime" was to ignore a possible red card for a wild tackle which infuriated both the player on the receiving end and his manager.

The referee's chief, Keith Hackett, excluded the official from any work on the next available match weekend. It was a well kept secret, but has still sent out a message to his colleagues. The idea at the moment is to keep these punishments quiet and handle them internally, but at least it is a start towards a system that will please managers and clubs.

It is likely that if there are any repeat offenders then the ultimate price would be relegation from the élite, full-time ranks.

The move to make officials accountable has come since Hackett took power. He has made an effort to forge ties with Premiership managers and their weekly conversations regularly throw up the gripe that referees do not have to pay a penalty for key decisions they get wrong.

Several managers have been unhappy with the standards this season and the latest development is designed to improve their work. The theory is that if the officials have their performances reviewed - and some are left off the list for short spells - then it will show that the authorities are listening.

A Premiership spokesman confirmed yesterday: "There are procedures in place where performances are monitored and matches are awarded accordingly."

Referees have very occasionally been suspended for one game in the past for glaring errors or failure to follow the rules, but this new crackdown promises to be more severe and more regular.

Meanwhile, Martin Allen could be forced to spend the rest of the season on gardening leave after Barnet sought a High Court injunction against him becoming the Brentford manager.

Allen quit Barnet last week to replace the sacked Wally Downes at Brentford. He guided them to a first win in nine games against Rushden at the weekend. But Barnet claim Allen is in breach of contract and must see out a period of two months' notice along with the physiotherapist Damien Doyle, who was set to join him at Griffin Park this week.

The barrister Shirley Bothroyd told the High Court that Barnet had been left "paralysed" and "in chaos" by their departures, and the case will be heard in full next Monday.

The Barnet coach, Adrian Whitbread, has also left Underhill to join Allen, but is not alleged to be in breach of contract.

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