Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Was Attwell really that bad?

I have to take the FA's word for it that Stuart Attwell, the youngest ever referee in the Premier League a few years ago, was so bad that he had to be dropped down to the Championship. Did he stand out in the number of mistakes made?
I presume so. Referees at the most senior level are thoroughly assessed and their strengths and weaknesses thoroughly picked over by former referees working to a tried and trusted formual of assessments.

But I can't help thinking that Attwell, still under 30, has been made a scapegoat after some high profile decisions like the sending off of Gary Cahill for fouling an attacker just inside his own half in a Bolton game in December.
A couple of months ago Graham Poll carried out a mock assessment and gave him very high marks for getting the decisions right, but criticised him for his presence on the field.
Like many refs, Attwell has faced a lot of criticism from coaches, but he's far from alone.
So all in all I'm puzzled by PGMOL's decision to drop him from the Elite Group of referees, even though referees' boss Mike Riley stressed the door would remain open for him to return.
Referees all over the world have felt the chill wind of falling out of favour. If your face doesn't fit, ambitious referees find themselves deprived of cup finals and high profile games that help promotion chances. I wonder if there's an element of this in Attwell's case.

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