Five officials experiment gets the thumbs up

Now where did the fifth one go?

Referees. Football’s favourite fall guy. Everyone’s favourite scapegoat. The person that everyone loves to moan about.

Fair comments surely?

Rightly or wrongly, referees are not exactly showered in love and praise in the modern game, but it turns out you lot want even more of them to oversee your football matches!

Yep, you read that right. In a recent Club Website poll, the majority of you said that you’d be happy to see five officials refereeing your games, on a trial basis at least.

UEFA are using this season’s Europa League as an opportunity to experiment with two extra officials in each match. The new officials will be stationed one behind each goal to assist the referee with penalty box incidents, with the theory that more big decisions in crucial areas will be made correctly.

Michel Platini will be hoping so anyway, but not everyone’s convinced. Managers and supporters alike have stated concerns that the extra officials could lead to confusion, while Celtic boss Tony Mowbray is worried that the extra officials might be too keen to get involved:

"Let's all hope they don't feel they have to get involved in something. I sometimes feel that about assistant referees. An incident happens right in front of them, they want to get their flag up and wave it. I just hope that's not the case every time the ball goes into the penalty box."

It’s a purely hypothetical question at grassroots level – let’s face it, there aren’t even enough referees out there to even provide one official for every game! – but it seems that the majority of you don’t share Mowbray’s concerns.

If referees grew on trees, would you like to see two extra officials in your grassroots matches?

Asked to imagine a situation where “referees grew on trees” and as many officials were available as required, 38% of you thought an extra two officials for each game would be a good idea.

A further 24% of you felt that it would certainly be worth a try on a trial basis at least, while 38% opposed the idea, suggesting that the extra men in black would “only lead to confusion”.

One to chat about over the season at least - it will certainly be interesting to see how UEFA’s experiment passes off.

As for the day when we’re in a position to choose to have five officials in our amateur games?

Well, I think pigs might fly - or refs actually start growing on trees - before that comes about!

Club Website poll result:

If referees grew on trees, would you like to see an extra two assistants in your grassroots game as per UEFA's trial in the Europa League this season?

- No. Would only lead to confusion     38.4%
- Yes definitely. Extra eyes can only help     38.2%
- Maybe. Worth giving it a try         23.4%

Total votes:  5,611

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