Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rob Styles Demoted to League Two for a Weekend

From the Daily Telegraph's website:

"A week after officiating at Blackburn's Premier League game against leaders Manchester United, referee Rob Styles will be in charge of Saturday's League Two match between Shrewsbury Town and Chester City.

Styles turned down two United penalty appeals and cautioned Wayne Rooney when he complained about a challenge by Steven Reid.

The Premier League would say only that referees' supremo Keith Hackett had 19 referees to choose from for 10 Premier League games each weekend, but it does appear a huge drop in status for a man regarded as one of England's senior referees.

Last month Styles was criticised over a penalty he awarded to Birmingham and in August he was sanctioned following his performance in Liverpool's game at home to Chelsea."

This is why the higher-ups in the Premier League, particularly Keith Hackett, are nothing more than a joke. This is why there's a major problem in England in terms of respecting the referees.

As the article says, there are going to be nine eligible referees every week who don't work a Premiership game. No one makes a big deal about it when a referee isn't picked, unless it's a form of punishment for poor performance in a previous game.

My question is this: Why embarrass the referees by making disciplinary action public? If Keith Hackett didn't want to assign Rob Styles to a Premiership game this weekend, that's fine; there are nine other guys waiting to step in, and he quietly could've sat Styles down and chosen a replacement.

Styles is very experienced and has been around the block a few times. He doesn't need to subjected to the relative humiliation of working a League Two match, and he doesn't gain anything by doing it. Like I said, if Hackett didn't want to select Styles, then he should've just given him the weekend off altogether.

All this does, and we've seen it before with other referees (Mark Clattenburg earlier in the season sticks out to me), is gives players and managers more ammunition to criticize the referees and treat them without respect. It's obvious that Hackett doesn't have the backs of his officials, and demoting them to lower-league duty just chops their authority off at the knees when they get back to the Premiership.

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