Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Accountable' Refs Backed by Winter

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Accountable' Refs Backed by Winter

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas

CALLS for referees to be more publicly accountable for their decisions - voiced in the wake of some contentious calls against the North East big three - have been backed by ex-official Jeff Winter.

Another depressing round of Premier League fixtures for the North East's sides passed this weekend with just a single point earned by Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough - sending them hurtling towards a stomach-churning date with destiny on Sunday.

Howard Webb's decision to rule out Mark Viduka's second-half header was condemned by Alan Shearer, while confusion shrouds Alan Wiley's decision to blow his whistle in the run-up to Portsmouth's equaliser on Monday night.

Even Middlesbrough were entitled to feel sore that Stilyian Petrov's foul on Stewart Downing in the first half hour of their clash with Aston Villa was not punished more severely, considering he had committed a similar offence minutes before. It provided more cannon fodder for talk-ins and television coverage, presenters and pent-up fans pouncing on the fact that referees aren't allowed to explain or justify their decisions after games.

That is an edict passed by the Premier League referees' association the PGMOL, and stuck to steadfastly by top flight officials. The Journal contacted Wiley, the referee whose decision came under scrutiny on Monday night, only to be met by a predictably terse "no comment".

For former Premier League referee Winter, who has watched Middlesbrough's desperate battle against the drop with a heavy heart, the time for referees to explain themselves has arrived - if just to stop them from becoming convenient scapegoats.

Casting his eye over the contentious decisions, he believes Mike Riley was right not to take action against Petrov but that Webb was wrong to rule out Viduka's goal. On Wiley's badly-timed whistle, he admits to confusion about what he was blowing for and admits that the game, if being played to the letter of the law, should have stopped at that point. …

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