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By Sonny Turner

Sub-edited by Sam Brady

The sustained mishaps of Premier League refereeing has led to an acceptance and blindness to mistakes, which halts the chances of improvement. We no longer see the rules which the referees seem to have unanimously voted to ignore. We need to open our eyes.

The Monday night game, Burnley vs Tottenham, refereed by Michael Oliver, perfectly highlighted the consistent failure of referees to uphold the same overlooked rules, and get away with it. The uncharacteristic praise from Jose Mourinho claiming Oliver was “very, very, good,” will make sure that nothing changes.

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The first of many rules ignored, yet broken every game, is the six second rule. Goalkeepers hold onto the ball routinely for over double this time, and even when complained about to the referee, done by Harry Kane to Oliver, nothing is done, and the time-wasting is allowed.

Strike one.

Another piece of what is almost affectionately described as gamesmanship, is the un-punished deliberate stopping of a quick free-kick, by standing directly infront of the ball. When Moussa Sissoko found himself in breach of the law, having successfully prevented Burnley from getting the ball forward before his team were defensively set, all he was forced to do by Oliver is walk backwards after the damage had been done, no yellow card in sight. This despite the FA website stating that a player “must be cautioned for delaying the restart of play” in this situation.

Strike two.

Despite receiving praise for his performance, Oliver also missed a foul by Eric Dier, who had a handful of a Burnley shirt from a corner, and should have been punished with a penalty. Illegal holding, especially at set pieces, seems these days to be a 50/50 as to whether it will be punished, with Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey being punished recently against Crystal Palace for the offence, but Harry Maguire going un-punished against Chelsea this week.

When the Premier League attempted to crack down on it, only Mike Dean was brave enough to award penalties, yet received so much stick for the amount he was awarding, that he was forced to stop, with no back-up from colleagues. Now with VAR in place there was hope that these offences would be punished, yet the offence by Dier on Monday was also missed by VAR operator Craig Pawson.

Strike three. Out. Not a very, very, good performance.

Sean Dyche summed up the acceptance of these types of offences after the game when describing the goal, saying “there was a bit of blocking going on, but that’s standard.” The standard level of referees is to ignore rules.

With referees being praised for this standard, don’t expect it to change any time soon.

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July 2024