• Football

Premier League referees need independence

ESPN staff
September 16, 2013
Chelsea's Marcel Desailly attempts to stop Mark Halsey waving a red card in 2002 © PA Photos

Premier League referees are not showing enough red cards, according to former top official Mark Halsey.

"The Premier League want fast, furious and physical games," Halsey told the Sun. "It is also what the world wants and for which TV pays huge sums of money. But you do wonder if we are doing a disservice sometimes by being different and letting the game flow more than our colleagues abroad."

Halsey said one of the issues was that the Premier League paid the referees and so had more input into how they officiated games.

"In all other footballing nations, it is the national federations who control refereeing, not their main league. La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga are servants, not masters. One of the problems in our current system is that the Premier League funds the [match officials], along with the FA and Football League to a lesser extent.

"In effect, these organisations are paying the wages of referees. There is clearly potential for vested interest here. Down the years we have seen that certain managers can put pressure on the League to make sure the [game] is run a certain way and refereed under that system."

"At a referee's meeting at Burton late last season we were shown 39 incidents where red cards should have been issued in the Premier League but only seven had been. That meant we had missed 32 cards between us.

"I know English football's card count was down to a reputation for letting games flow, an average of one red card every 8.6 games compared with one every 2.6 in Spain, but that was ridiculous."

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