Premier League referees are always right* (well, 92 per cent of the time)
28 February 2012
The speed of top-level English football has increased by an astonishing 20 per cent in the last five years, according to statistics drawn up by the professional referees' body. Using Prozone computer technology, it has been established a significant rise in fitness levels has seen players in the Barclays Premier League running that much more at the 'high intensity' level; more than 21 kilometres per hour.
That, they believe, is the result of the increasingly competitive nature of the Premier League and the appliance of sports science producing fitter players. It is putting more pressure on referees because the game has become that much faster in such a short space of time.
Even so, modern training techniques for professional referees to meet that challenge are being introduced and match delegates - officials who monitor and mark the referees on behalf of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) - believe they are getting results. An event occurs in a Premier League match every six seconds on average, with a referee having to make a decision every 12 seconds. But PGMOL believe that, for the most part, the professional refs are getting the 'major decisions' right.
Statistics compiled by the match delegates claim referees get 92.3 per cent of those calls right with results for assistant referees even better; a staggering 99.3 per cent. These figures might surprise a few managers and players, never mind fans, and they are open to interpretation given that what constitutes a 'major decision' is debatable.
In fact, any incident can divide a room - even one full of professional referees. But it is PGMOL's intention not only to meet the demands of the modern game but also educate managers, players, fans and the media when it comes to the challenge facing referees today.
They are working in tandem with the FA's disciplinary officials, who also have new issues like social media - in particular Twitter - with which to contend.