Blow the whistle on part-time referees, says Port Vale's Micky Adams as Crewe's Steve Davis calls for referee academy
MICKY Adams wants to see more professional referees – and says the move can't come soon enough.
The Port Vale manager believes some of the part-time officials used in League Two are not fit enough for the job and is hoping the advent of full-time referees in the Premier League will filter its way down to the lower leagues.
Adams was furious with rookie referee Richard Clark after Vale's 2-0 defeat at Northampton on Saturday.
Indeed, the performance of the Northumberland official, in his first year at league level, left him contemplating the general standard of officiating.
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"I'm simply not sure that fitness levels are as good as they should be," he said.
"Looking at some of the incidents on Saturday, the referee wasn't in an ideal position to award correct decisions on a number of occasions and I'd have to question his fitness.
"It's not down to me, it's down to his bosses to put right, but he didn't help himself.
"The players are elite athletes these days and referees need to be just as fit to keep up with them.
"So maybe the advent of full-time referees, on a professional basis, must come down to the lower leagues sooner rather than later."
There are two groups of officials to rule on every game from the Premier League to the Blue Square Premier.
The 'Select' group of 16 covers the Premier League, with two or three officiating various games below on a weekly basis.
But just 12 matches in League Two were handled by professionals last season, with the rest covered by members of the national list, who are all part-time.
Adams said several of Clark's decisions on Saturday had left him feeling "hard done by" and revealed he'd spoken to the official after the game at Sixfields.
The referee, who had earlier sent off John McCombe for the tackle which left Alex Nicholls with a broken leg, missed what Adams felt was a stone-wall penalty for his team when Ashley Vincent was felled by Joe Widdowson.
"I've watched the tape of the game and quite clearly we should have had a penalty," he said.
"How he doesn't give it ... I'm shaking my head even now because I can't believe it.
"I did have a word with the referee after the game, but perhaps it wasn't in the right place. I collared him in the car park as he was leaving.
"He told me the assistant referee said the defender had got a touch on the ball, but I've watched it over and over again and he didn't.
"The ball doesn't deviate from the line it was going on and it's quite clearly a penalty.
"The problem is referees at our level are not fit enough to keep up with the flow of the game.
"They're not getting the appropriate help they require from their assistants either."
Adams, though, is experienced enough to realise it's a game of swings and roundabouts.
"These things go against you sometimes," he said.
"We didn't get the decisions on Saturday for whatever reason and on another day we'll get them.
"Everything will even itself out over the course of the season and while I'm the one moaning about the referee this week, maybe next week it will be somebody else's turn and we'll get the rub of the green."
Adams said he felt sorry for officials, sometimes, because there were so many 'grey areas'.
"There are so many television cameras at games these days, particularly in the Premier League, and sometimes they can replay an incident at full speed or slow it down and you still can't tell if the referee got it right," he added.
"But that's the game we love. It's about human judgement and human error and you just hope they get it right, but I just felt it went against us on Saturday and they didn't get the decisions right."
But while the Vale boss thinks more referees dedicated solely to football might help, he doesn't think members of the Select group should be 'demoted' for making mistakes.
"I'd be horrified if they did that," he added. "That's not the way to go."
Meanwhile, Crewe, manager Steve Davis has called for the introduction of a referee academy to help improve the standard of officiating across English football.
Davis is fed up of his side being used as a testing ground for rookie referees, such as Tony Harrington, whose first match at League One level was Crewe’s 1-0 defeat at home to Yeovil on Saturday.
Davis has compiled a video of Harrington’s display to send to the Referees Association and believes that men in black should have more experience before being promoted.
He said: “The referee was a novice at League One level.
“Sending them to Crewe they probably think we rarely give any fouls away, if you look at our record it’s about four or five per game so perhaps it’s seen as a low-key introduction.
“It didn’t help us against Yeovil. I’ve picked out 24 incidents I’ve put on a DVD which we will send to the Referees Association with a voiceover to explain the mistakes I felt he made.
“They’ve got to push them forward only when they’re ready and this guy wasn’t. He couldn’t control the game.
“I spoke to the assessor afterwards and said he didn’t know the basics of what was a foul and what wasn’t, so if he didn’t know that he’s not ready. Maybe they need to give them a little bit longer at Conference or lower leagues.”
In the future, Davis has an idea for a referee coaching centre to teach young officials.
He said: “I’ve always felt a referee academy would be the best thing.
“Players who are released by clubs from the ages of 19 to 21 should be encouraged to follow that path as they know the game and that should improve the standard.”