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EPL Week Six: A Look Back


Being a referee is a thankless job.

If you do your job very well as a referee you go unnoticed, but if you make a mess of your job, chances are you will make headlines and draw death threats from irate fans.

As tough a job as being a referee is, there aren’t many people feeling sorry for referees like Rob Styles, who admittedly awarded a penalty to Manchester United that never should have been called. The penalty helped Manchester United break a scoreless tie against Bolton on its way to a 2-0 win.

One person who isn’t feeling sorry for referees is SBI EPL correspondent James Tyler of The Unprofessional Foul, who focuses this week’s look at the EPL on referees and their poor decisions (and if you haven’t figured it out by now, Tyler is a Liverpool fan. Try not to hold that against him).

A bad weekend for EPL referees


‘The referee’s a wanker.’

There’s a reason this phrase was born, uttered in frustration and derision by a million fans in a million languages all over the globe. There’s a reason we all say it each and every week watching our teams play. There’s a reason it’s true.

This weekend, I could wax lyrical about the composed performance by Liverpool to triumph in the derby away from home, or even the wonderful effort by Hull that led to the Arse dropping even more points. Honestly, their die-hard, stubborn reliance on style over substance is providing me more entertainment than most teams thus far, and while I fear similar inept performances by my lot, their struggles still bring me great joy.

I could touch on the woes of Spurs, who are surely days away from canning Juande, or Man City, who have a ton of money but away defeats at Wigan to show for it.

But no. It’s the refs this week. They’re all wankers, and they ruined more games than they should. Shit, if they got any more contentious decisions wrong in a single week, I’d think I was watching Serie A.

So where do we begin?

How about Bolton? Sure, they’re the bane of our league (show me a Bolton fan and I’ll show you a deranged sado-masochist), but they were royally jobbed by Mr. Rob Styles. Jlloyd Samuel cleanly tackled the tanned Portuguese bastard in the box, and Styles pointed to the spot. 1-0 Man United, and the game was done from there.

Styles waited until Monday to apologize after the Professional Game Match Official Board (PGMO) had examined the incident. While Megson’s comments were hilarious, it was Fergie who surely had to hold back a laugh when giving this gem: "Rob takes a lot of credit (in apologizing). It helps in terms of him showing some humility towards the game. That is the most important thing." Well, Fergie, I think that the theft of 3 points is the most important thing here.

But wait! There’s more! What about my least favorite football player on the planet, Tim Cahill? I was elated to see that dirty, angry antipodean receive his marching orders, but in light of Everton’s appeal, we’ve learned that ref Mike Riley originally intended to show a yellow for the two-footed lunge on Xabi Alonso. When Cahill decided to ignore several whistles and beckons as he was trying to issue the card, Riley went for the red instead. It would have been impossible for Everton to challenge had he offered a yellow and then another yellow for dissent, but going straight for red will probably make this yet another decision overturned and undermined from a referee this weekend, and yet another week in which Tim Cahill is allowed to play football.

And we’re still not done! Anyone catch Man City and Wigan on Sunday? What was Wilson Palacios’ dive all about, and, more importantly, how on earth was Steve Bennett buying that as a penalty? Whether you think the Blues deserved a point from that match or not, it’s tough for an inconsistent team to succeed away from home when they’re conceding goals via invisible penalties.

Two awful penalty shouts, a mishandled sending-off, three begrudged teams, and plenty of overtime for the hard-working people at football’s independent review boards.

Of course, my mind wanders to a possible conspiracy theory. The refs assistants have spoken up loudly this summer across the globe about their poor pay grades and being forced to have weekday jobs in order to make ends meet, this coming only a year after referees got the money they were looking for. When they don’t have all week to focus on their craft, it’s reasonable to think they’ll get a few calls wrong at the weekend, but is it more sinister than that? Could they be asserting their authority to bring the EPL to its knees until wage increases are met?

Nah, probably not. It’s a lot simpler than that. They’re just a bunch of wankers.


  1. There is always one person like Nico who pops up and criticizes other people. Someone who probably does not have the balls to write anything in public, just sits behind a P.C looking down on others. Nico do you own a mirror? Probably a Ipswich fan I suspect.

  2. Nothing but a rant on a familiar subject. I take it Mr. Tyler has not taken any writing classes, much less received a degree in journalism. Yawn.

  3. well despite being a poor call, i cant fault the ref on making ronaldo’s call… that is just another reason why i stress never slide in the box…

  4. I was wondering if there have been discussions about additional referees and linesmen?

    American Football has 7 referees for 22 players for a game that is played in a small area (usually 10-30 yards from where the ball is placed).

    Basketball has 3 referees for 10 players in a playing area 1/6th? the size of a soccer field

    Soccer has 22 players on a large field, with 1 ref and 2 linesmen and the action moves from one end to the other very quickly.

    My solution is 2 referees and 4 linesmen.

    It seems like there should be another referee on the field so the ref’s can determine if one had a better look than the other. Also with 2 linesmen on each side, there will be a better calling of offsides (if both keep their flag down then you’re pretty sure that the player was on side).

    Especially when there’s a set play where the ball is kicked into the box, I’m surprised that there isn’t a foul called on every play but I think it’s because there are only 1 ref and 1 linesman watching it. On a play in the box, where you have to be sure, you’ll now have 2 refs and 2 linesman watching play. It will clean up the game and be easier to spot divers.


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