Sheffield Wednesday: Ex-ref chief Keith Hackett concerned over standard of Championship referees

Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal

Former referees’ chief Keith Hackett claims only the best Championship officials should be taking charge of Sheffield Wednesday’s matches over the coming weeks.

The Owls were left fuming after ref James Linington failed to penalise Richard Keogh for handballing Adam Reach’s seventh minute shot near the goal line in their defeat at Derby County last weekend.

Newport-based whistler Linington’s decision turned the match as the Rams secured maximum points thanks to goals by Cyrus Christie and Alex Pearce.

Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal described it as the “worst decision” he had seen in the second-tier this season.

Hackett, the 1981 FA Cup final referee, who subsequently became general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL), told The Star: “I would be getting my banker referees if I was the PGMOL, who perform at a consistently high level within that group, to officiate Wednesday’s matches for a few games to get some balance back.

“What the club want is for a referee to go out in the middle and allow them to play within the laws of the game and not to be the one who influences the outcome of the result.”

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Andy Madley has been chosen to take charge of the Owls’ fixture with Ipswich Town tomorrow, with Linington, one of 18 full-time professional officials in the Select Group 2, having not been assigned a Championship match this weekend.

Hackett has big sympathy for Wednesday after Linington did not award the penalty at Derby.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I thought the referee was in quite a good position to see it.

Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal

“The whole aim of refereeing at the Elite level is to get the big decisions right.

“The result was affected by a poor refereeing decision and that is the last thing you want.

“For me, it was a clear, deliberate handball. It denied an obvious goal. The correct outcome was a penalty and a red card for the player that handled the shot.

“The referee couldn’t have seen it that way because if he had, he wouldn’t have taken that action.

Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal

“The whole art of refereeing is based on a process which says you see, you recognise, you think and you act. They are the four cornerstones of refereeing.”

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Speaking on this week, Dean Mohareb, a former professional referee, fully agreed with Hackett’s assessment and former Sheffield United striker Brian Deane branded it an “outrageous decision”.

“These guys at the Select Group 2 level are professional referees so there is a higher expectation that they get decisions right,” said Hackett.

“Refereeing is a difficult job and errors do happen. But it is also right that they are accountable now they are salary staff.

“With the investment that has gone into referees, hopefully we will begin to see an improvement in the coming months.”

It is not the first time Wednesday have been on the wrong end of a bad refereeing decision in 2016. Fernando Forestieri was controversially dismissed in back-to-back matches against Preston North End and Hull City last term.

Hackett said: “The manager at Sheffield Wednesday has been a very responsible person. I have seen a number of questionable decisions in the time he has been in office and I think genuinely as an individual and as a club they have taken a very responsible attitude to support the officials.

“I remember when Forestieri was sent off at Hull and Michael Dawson clearly committed a red card offence and held his hands up to apologise. He fouled Forestieri and it would have been his second yellow card but Forestieri was sent off and served a suspension.

“Teams should be allowed to appeal when they feel the referee has got a decision wrong.

“If they can’t appeal, then someone at the Football Association should have said ‘we have looked at it and clearly the ref has got it wrong so he doesn’t serve a suspension’. Common sense is not prevailing.”

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