EPL refs' allegiances taken into account to reduce bias

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy gave Jonathan Moss a piece of his mind after the referee showed the striker his second yellow card for simulation during the Foxes' draw with West Ham. Moss' controversial performance has increased the scrutiny on the cho
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy gave Jonathan Moss a piece of his mind after the referee showed the striker his second yellow card for simulation during the Foxes' draw with West Ham. Moss' controversial performance has increased the scrutiny on the choice of match officials for Premier League matches.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

LONDON • The spotlight on referees focused ever more sharply in the English Premier League after Leicester City's controversial 2-2 draw against West Ham.

It has led the former head of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), Keith Hackett, to reveal that referees will not get appointed to clubs they support.

Hackett, who previously helmed the organisation that makes refereeing appointments for Premier League games, told the BBC: "At the beginning of every season the referees' background information is audited.

"They complete a form that includes who they support, the history of if they've played the game and with the addresses where they are residing.

"That gives you a picture that comes into use when you're appointing. It's about ensuring, for example, you wouldn't appoint a Sheffield-based ref for a Sheffield team."

  • ENGLISH REFEREES WHO SUPPORT EPL CLUBS

  • Jon Moss (Sunderland)

    Leicester City's Jamie Vardy gave Jonathan Moss a piece of his mind after the referee showed the striker his second yellow card for simulation during the Foxes' draw with West Ham. Moss' controversial performance has increased the scrutiny on the cho

    Kevin Friend (Leicester)

    Leicester City's Jamie Vardy gave Jonathan Moss a piece of his mind after the referee showed the striker his second yellow card for simulation during the Foxes' draw with West Ham. Moss' controversial performance has increased the scrutiny on the cho

    Mark Clattenburg (Newcastle)

    Leicester City's Jamie Vardy gave Jonathan Moss a piece of his mind after the referee showed the striker his second yellow card for simulation during the Foxes' draw with West Ham. Moss' controversial performance has increased the scrutiny on the cho

    Michael Oliver (Newcastle)

    Leicester City's Jamie Vardy gave Jonathan Moss a piece of his mind after the referee showed the striker his second yellow card for simulation during the Foxes' draw with West Ham. Moss' controversial performance has increased the scrutiny on the cho

    Andre Marriner (Aston Villa)

There are currently 19 referees on active duty in the Premier League, of which five of them support clubs from the top tier.

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey added: "I was never able to referee Bolton because I lived there. If you lived in Leeds, you weren't going to referee Leeds United."

Halsey, a Queens Park Rangers fan, said he refereed his own team twice before the PGMOL announced its rules on allegiances.

He revealed: "I refereed one win and one loss and I thought 'I can't do this again'.

"I never told them initially because it was back in the 1990s and things like that were only just starting to happen.

"I had to declare it because I felt like celebrating when they won. But once you've crossed the white line you're the ref and you always remained professional."

PGMOL says the process behind referee selection is all about avoiding "unnecessary extra external pressure and scrutiny on referees" in what is "already a high pressure and demanding job".

Last week, Leicester fan Kevin Friend was removed from taking charge of title rivals Tottenham's game at Stoke.

There was further uproar after Jon Moss' display in Leicester's draw against the Hammers, which saw striker Jamie Vardy sent off and dubious penalties awarded to both sides.

Both Hackett and Halsey argue there are inconsistencies in the system.

Halsey questioned why Friend was removed from refereeing a game involving Leicester's title rivals, while Michael Oliver, a Newcastle fan, was allowed to officiate a game involving the Magpies' fellow relegation candidates Norwich City when the Canaries lost to Crystal Palace last week.

"I just think they're making a rod for their own back," said Halsey.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline 'EPL refs' allegiances taken into account to reduce bias'. Print Edition | Subscribe