Mark Halsey has released a remarkable tirade against Premier League officials, claiming half a dozen need serious help to reach the standard required at Premier League level.
Halsey claims Mike Jones, Jon Moss, Kevin Friend, Lee Mason, Roger East and Neil Swarbrick are all not good enough for the English top flight.
Jones is described as "poor and lacks authority," while Halsey believes East "does not look up to it" and thinks Friend is only "middle order."
Halsey has, of course, started the season as BT Sport's new match-day insider, giving instant perspective on the referees. Over the first few games he appeared quite reserved, unwilling to criticise some seemingly obvious mistakes.
However, he's since altered his stance and was particularly scathing of Jon Moss' recent performance in the match between Manchester City and Everton—one of the six referees he's attacked.
In a mild-mannered game, Moss somehow handed out nine yellow cards and missed a much stronger case for an Everton penalty before awarding what looked like a far softer shout to Manchester City.
Halsey attributes significant blame toward the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL), as well as general manager Mike Riley—a former Premier League referee—and his assistant, Keren Barratt.
He claims too many big matches are given to the wrong referees, citing Riley and Barratt as chief culprits, and says several referees require "more experience, better coaching and nurturing."
Halsey goes on to state:
[PGMOL] are running the whole show on an apparent power trip while creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.
That is not helping the weaker officials improve and the system often confuses and frequently frustrates the best referees who get mixed messages about what is expected of them.
While all of the attention will be drawn to his stern criticisms, Halsey has also been quick to praise some current referees.
Don't get me wrong, there are some really top referees out there.
I reckon currently there is a 'great eight', in no particular order: Mark Clattenburg, Howard Webb, Mike Dean, Andre Marriner, Lee Probert, Martin Atkinson, Phil Dowd and Chris Foy.
There's always room for improvements with officials; however, such a personal attack on these six referees seems unnecessary and hardly constructive.
The human element brought to a game by the referee is all part of the appeal with football. The close calls are forever debated, the merits of a foul argued about and referees continually chastised.
Drawing such clear attention to officials is hardly going to make their next assignment any easier, and most referees will be glad to escape the Premier League's glare for this international break.
For such a seemingly conservative, relaxed referee, Halsey is quickly proving the polar opposite as a columnist and match-day pundit.
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