Refereeing decisions have always been a talking point for football fans; be it a contentious red card, a disallowed goal, or even that ludicrous handball that never should have been given.
It seems to me that in recent seasons referees have become much more part of the game, with Match Of The Day covering endless penalty shouts and other decisions, so what do the stats really tell us?
From 2002 – 2006 on average 72.5 penalties were awarded, compared to 2009 – 2013 (not including the current season) 97.25, a big increase. But does this mean refereeing is becoming harsher? From 2002 – 2005 the premier league averaged 62.3 red cards while from 2009 – 2012 there is only an average of 52.6 red cards per season. Rather odd to see that there are less red card offences now than ten years ago when a lot of scything tackles seemed to be the norm.
Could it be the foreign influence on the English game, or perhaps the rule book is being used as guide lines rather than the law. What I do know is that the professional referees get a lot of, mostly unwarranted, stick from both players and fans. It’s a hard job and i’m not sure any of us could do it any better, despite the claims we all make shouting from the stands. For me technology is a good thing, I just hope Fifa and the FA do not get carried away, no one wants every foul to come under minutes of video footage and scrutiny just for the sake of one free kick. In my opinion, a good game is free flowing and fast, not bogged down in the very sticky mires of the laws of the game.
It’s very hard to come to a conclusion about the footballing rule book, because everything is subjective, but I believe that a lot of the decisions made should come down to common sense more than anything. I guess our beloved sport truly is a game of opinions, and I for one hope it stays that way.