'Give referees a chance!' - Evatt calls for overhaul on League One officials

·4-min read
'Give referees a chance!' - Evatt calls for overhaul on League One officials
'Give referees a chance!' - Evatt calls for overhaul on League One officials

IAN Evatt would like answers from the authorities on why referees are not getting more help at League One level.

The Wanderers boss has found himself in the officials’ bad books of late, receiving a red card in last weekend’s game against Port Vale for venting his frustration at a fourth official during the half time interval.

But Evatt maintains that his concerns over the consistency of refereeing at this level of football could be eased with an explanation as to why games in League One and Two are patrolled differently to those in the Championship and Premier League.

Grounds in the lower two tiers do not have VAR but most, if not all dugouts, have access to quick replays of action on the pitch.

Equally, the vast majority of games outside the top two divisions are refereed by part-time officials who have a regular job during the week.

Evatt was also left scratching his head on Tuesday night when the fourth official, Scott Jackson, did not have a radio link to referee, Anthony Backhouse. A few days earlier, fourth official Hristo Karaivanov had advised referee, Ross Joyce, during an incident which saw Bolton captain Ricardo Santos sent off.

“Why we can’t, with the amount of money in the game, make referees professional across the board is beyond me,” said Evatt. “If VAR is good enough for the top of the game, why is it not good enough throughout the English pyramid?

“I just don’t understand why. And especially the role of the fourth official, that has to be consistent so they either get involved all of the time or they get involved none of the time. If they are involved all of the time, why can’t they have a screen to look at?

“I can see live feed, I can see live footage. If they want to get involved with decisions, why can’t they look [at a screen]? Just consistency across the board is what is required, but making referees professional, for me, is the biggest improvement we can make in the game.”

Another incident in the Port Vale game highlighted how technology may have helped the referee make a more informed judgement.

Amadou Bakayoko claimed his goal at Vale Park should have stood after the ball was hacked off the line by a defender. Within seconds, replays of the incident were being circulated on social media, but the officials on the pitch were unable to access them.

“All of this technology that we have in the world nowadays is to try and make the right decision, the correct decision,” Evatt maintained. “Football will always be subjective – even if you have got someone sitting wherever they are looking at the screen, it is still an opinion. But it is an informed opinion because they can see the replays and what everybody else can see, so they have the best possible chance of getting the decision right.

“That is all we ask because these moments, that [Bakayoko] goal come the end of the season might be absolutely vital to us. We could theoretically lose a promotion, lose millions of pounds based on the fact that a decision was made that was massively incorrect, and I don’t think that is right. I think we should have professional referees, give them the best chance of making the best decisions and also implement VAR.”

Asked whether he knew why professional refereeing had not been stretched into League One and beyond, Evatt added: “I wish someone would come out and explain the reasoning why we have got professional leagues, so from the Premier League to League Two. Some would argue the National League is borderline professional now. Why are we still having part-time officials? I don’t know. Maybe you can enlighten me?

“It is important. We are not talking about the vast sums of money that the Premier League has and are playing for. But relatively, it is still vitally important for all of our clubs to get the right decisions, which can make relegation or promotion or anything else.

“Just give the referees a chance! Everyone is quick enough to get on their backs, myself included. But if they are not doing this every day of the week, how are they going to make the best possible decisions all the time? You are not.

“If you are part-time at anything, you are not as good as you can be in my opinion. So just give them a chance, there is enough money in the game. That is how I see it anyway.”