Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ref-ing Mad? Well Now You Can Do Something About It!

Another shocking refereeing performance is a 'handy' excuse when your down the pub with your pals, after your team has lost, but as handy as it may be, nowadays it has become a more regular & genuine cause for complaint amongst almost ALL football supporters.

Now YOU can do something about it! And shortly I will tell you how!

Why would you want to bother in the first place I can hear you saying?
What difference will it make?
You can't change the result?
You can't get the game replayed?

Last Saturday I was at Selhurst Park to watch my team play host to Ipswich Town in a Championship League game. The 4-1 reverse suggests Palace were well beaten BUT the performance of the referee Mr. Penton from Sussex was awful, dire, atrocious, diabolical, calamitous........the list of expletives could go on & on!

Now I realize every supporter of every football club has got MANY a hard luck story they could instantly recall if asked, that involved a refereeing decision that changed a game, cost your team points, perhaps promotion or relegation, even administration!

To swallow these travesties of justice can take some doing as a fan & I am simply pointing out a recent one that affected me & more importantly MY club!

In just 90 minutes the referee awarded Ipswich a free-kick following a clean ball winning tackle made by a Palace defender that Town scored directly from, a second goal that looked suspiciously offside, a third goal where during the build up the ball quite clearly went out of play & the resulting cross led to a goal. And to put the icing on the cake, at 2-1 down Palace midfielder Nicky Carle was unceremoniously tripped from behind in the penalty box. A penalty & a red card should have ensued, but nothing was given.
Sound familiar?

To emphasise the point here are a small selection of comments left by Palace supporters on the messageboard of their own fans website following the game.
(Warning: Some strong language now follows!)

'Over and above the fact that the team were utterly devoid of any creation or desire yesterday, the ref was totally shocking. It took him 5 minutes to decide we'd actually scored (because he was no where near the play), he missed the penalty and several other decisions were so blatantly wrong even some of the players from both teams were left scratching their heads. The man was a joke.'

'The game is rotten to the core. Decisions can't be challenged, speaking out brings charges of bringing the game into disrepute, rules are openly flouted with impunity and criticism is silenced.
Football is f*cked, my friends. Get used to it.'

'Mr Penton is clearly a blind, incompetent w**ker who shouldn't be let loose on an under 7's game, let alone an important match like yesterday's. The tackle on Carle was one of the most blatant penalties I've ever seen in 35 years of watching football and, in the context of the game, robbed us of at least a point.
As others have said and I commented at the time, the defender should also have walked, which would have given us a great chance of what seemed like, at 2-0 down, an unlikely win.
And as Lombardo said, it was a fantastic move which deserved a goal at the end of it. I hope Mr Penton is happy with his act of daylight robbery, the useless pri*k.'

'A couple of weeks ago I saw the worst penalty in 40 years of watching football that was given against Exeter v Brentford. Amazing how, for such a culturally important sport not to mention the thin line between success and failure, that decisions rest with one man who hasn't even played the f*cking game.'

'Thing that annoyed me about it was the fact he gave them a freekick, which resulted in their first goal, when Clint Hill slid in from behind and clearly got the ball. Yet when an Ipswich player slides in from behind and clearly doesn't get the ball, we get f**k all. Can't help but think if it was outside the box he would have given it as a foul.'

'By the way did anyone notice that on their 3rd goal the ball CLEARLY went out for a throw in right next to the linesman but he did not see it!! Really annoyed cos otherwise we could have continued to fight back...'

So there we have it..........a group of very unhappy fans!

Now here is what WE as football supporters can do in an effort to clean up the game. We exercise OUR rights & using the particular example described above, do so by demanding that all match officials:

* Meet a standard above & beyond the current one in place.
* That they should be held accountable for their errors of judgement.
* That they should have to stand up & explain the reasons behind their decisions.
* And if necessary introduce new technology, if it will help cut out some of the
abysmal errors of judgement that occur, all too frequently week in, week out.

Now you & I know that this is not going to happen because of a few dodgy decisions made by a Sussex official in South London on a wet afternoon in January. Yes, you can write to the Football Association & complain, but I know you will be lucky to get your grievance even acknowledged.

However, The Independent Football Commission(IFC) was for six years (2002-08) an integral part of football’s self-regulatory system.
The IFC has now closed & has been replaced by the Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO).

The Independent Football Ombudsman was established at the beginning of the 2008-09 season & has a clear remit to receive & adjudicate on complaints from football supporters & participants which have not been resolved by the football authorities, and to raise any policy issues which have been highlighted by those complaints, directly with The FA, Premier League & The Football League.
The creation of an Ombudsman will maintain a position as the independent and final arbiter of football complaints.

Here is a piece of text from their website regarding complaints:

The IFO is the final stage on complaints involving customer issues. An individual, a group of individuals or an organisation who feels aggrieved at the service received from a provider should, in the first instance, take that complaint to the provider. That will usually be the football club which provided the service, but it could be one of the Football Authorities if they were responsible for the service (for example, the FA in the case of England matches).

Each club and each Authority has a customer charter which should explain how a complaint can be registered and how it will be dealt with. If the service complained of rests with a club and it fails to satisfy the complainant, then the complainant can revert to the appropriate Football Authority (for example, to the Premier League if a Premier League club is the subject of the complaint). If, thereafter, the complainant remains dissatisfied, he or she can appeal to the IFO. In addition, if the relevant Football Authority has not responded substantively to a complaint within six weeks of receiving it, the Authority will either refer the matter to the IFO for consideration or will explain to the IFO why further time is required to deal with the matter.

Where the IFO receives a complaint prematurely, ie where it has not gone through the earlier stages described above, the IFO will refer such complaints to the relevant body for consideration.

I am bringing this to the attention of ALL football fans fed up with ANY aspect of 'the beautiful game.'
If enough supporters took the time to air their grievances to the IFO then maybe, just maybe they will be forced to review the complaint in question, whatever that may be!

If 'X' number of thousands of supporters stood up for change then perhaps something might be done. Don't just air your issue(s) with your pals, on messageboards or keep it to yourself.......write a short paragraph on the subject (be it referees, ticket prices, stadium facilities......etc) in the 'complaints' section on the IFO's website.

Here is the link to the site & good luck!

Remember, football needs football fans. Without us there would be no game in it's current format. Clubs would go out of business, it would become a semi-professional game at best, supporters would lose interest, people would lose their jobs.
It's time for the supporters to have their say & help make a difference.

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