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Refs must be penalised for errors just as players are.

REFEREES should be subjected to trial by television more often in the same way footballers are.

We've seen many times over the years how a player may commit an offence on the field which is not witnessed by the officials, but then gets punished following the game after the FA study footage of the incident.

I think the same system should apply to referees on a regular basis when they get major decisions wrong of the type Howard Webb and Jonas Eriksson were guilty of this week.

After giving Liverpool one penalty in their FA Cup tie at Arsenal on Sunday, Webb then refused them another for a blatant foul on Luis Suarez in the area.

Liverpool lost the game 2-1, but had that penalty been given they could still be in the Cup.

In the Man City v Barcelona Champions League match on Tuesday, Swede Eriksson pointed to the spot for a challenge by City defender Martin Demichelis on Lionel Messi, which was initially made outside the area.

Messi converted the penalty and Barca went on to win 2-0. Both decisions were wrong, they proved very costly to Liverpool and Man City respectively, but the referees concerned won't face any further action at all.

I think this is wrong. Things should be made harder for referees, whereby key decisions can be regularly reviewed and if found to be incorrect, some sort of demotion for the official concerned can be applied.

I know this has happened in the past to refs, but not often enough in my opinion.

Too many referees feel they are in a comfort zone, whereby they know they can make bad calls and get backed up by the FA.

This is one of many examples where the FA are failing. They are very old school, haven't moved with the times and need to make a lot of changes in how they run the game.

Referees are far too protected; you can't say a bad word about them without getting punished.

The attitude of the FA is: "you make any comments about a referee's performance and we'll fine you."

Whatever happened to freedom of speech? It seems fine to criticise a manager or a player, but never a referee.

Bad decisions by referees cost clubs massive amounts of money.

These decisions can cost you a place in the Champions League - as looks like the case with Man City - or a place in the FA Cup, as happened to Liverpool.

One bad decision can cost a manager his job or a player his career.

How do we improve the situation? I think there should be more incentives for ex-pros to become refs. No-one knows the game better than the players. Half the refs out there have never played the game, certainly not at any decent level.

As for the standard of refereeing I came across in my days in the Conference, I'd use just one word - disgusting.

The problem with the Conference is it is used to trial referees.

Therefore amongst a really bad bunch, you might get one or two good ones, but they are then taken away to operate in the higher leagues while the Conference is stuck with the bad ones.

What makes a good referee? It's always been said that the best refs are the ones that go unnoticed - and I fully agree with that.

The problem these days is this very rarely happens. There always seems to be some controversy whereby the referee's decisions attract more attention than the game itself.

they bad calls backed the FA Everyone understands no-one is perfect. Referees will make mistakes the same as players and managers do, and most of us are sympathetic to that.

Difficulties come in when referees consistently make poor decisions which cost teams games.

All I would ever ask for in a referee is a bit of honesty. I was never really one to get in the ref's ear. I'd say my piece, but not overdo it.

But refs could help themselves if every now and again they would admit they got something wrong.

A player should have a right to say 'that was a bad decision ref' and it would help if occasionally a ref would hold his hands up and 'yes, I'm sorry, I got it wrong'.

Personally, that would be good enough for me.

The problem is, there are so many refs around with an arrogance about them who think they are always right.

Refereeing standards all round need to improve - and one big step towards making things better would be not to make it so easy for them to get away with poor decisions which prove so costly to the clubs they affect.

Referees know can make and get up by

Referees know they can make bad calls and get backed up by the FA

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Howard Webb declined to give a penalty for a foul on Luis Suarez
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Feb 22, 2014
Words:821
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