After Saturday’s incident with Lee Mason and following Sunday’s episode with Stuart Attwell, the time is now right to introduce Pan-European refereeing.
I’m watching our officials through my fingers these days because so much of their work has become cringeworthy.
And it’s no longer the case that we have the best referees in the Premier League because I’m afraid those in the Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga are dong a much better job.
Not just on the field but there seems to be much more common sense at play with VAR, too.
The introduction of video refs and the numerous TV angles we now get at every game has brought it to head.
And what we’re seeing is the result of referees not just making decisions based on what they see but on what they think pundits such as Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Alan Shearer might point out in analysis that is beamed into just about every front room in the country.
That’s what happened with Mason on Saturday, when he allowed Lewis Dunk to take a quick free-kick in Brighton’s clash with West Brom.
It was a case of, ‘I’ve given the decision, it’s the right one, but hang on, the optics are bad, I’ll blow the whistle again…’ Then all hell breaks loose and it ends up looking dreadful.
So what I’d love to see now is UEFA being clever enough to be able to say at any given time, ‘Right, we will give permission for Daniele Orsato or Felix Brych to take charge of Manchester United versus Liverpool and they will bring their on-field experience and their knowledge of VAR’.
That way, Attwell, Mason and Co will get to work with and learn from the best across the continent and I guarantee the refereeing standard across Europe will become much more level.
We can start to get away from the conversations fans have here, which are then echoed in the media, along the lines of, ‘Oh, no, we’ve got so and so again’.
Because if we had a European pool then a club might only see a ref once a season, if that.
Let’s face it, the best refs in Germany and Spain will make mistakes, too, and at least then it’ll get back to being, ‘Well, refs are human, they all make mistakes’, instead of the parochial stuff that gets spouted right now.
Look at it from the other angle as well — if our refs got to experience working abroad then it would benefit them and, as a result, the rest of us.
How good would it be, for instance, if Mason did well in a Milan derby this weekend or Attwell had a stormer during, say, Sevilla versus Valencia? It would do wonders for their confidence.
On top of that, if they’re working in those countries where they haven’t yet introduced VAR yet as well then they keep sharp with the job stripped back to basics.
They could be confident about doing their jobs again without having to worry about 10 different camera angles and whatever Dave from Stockport has to say on Twitter when he’s seen a couple of them.