Sez Les: Refs deserve to be flagged up

Sheffield ref Craig Pawson
Sheffield ref Craig Pawson
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There’s no Sheffield football, of course, in the Premier League and in view of the state both the city clubs are in right now, it could be a while before one of them makes it back there.

But there is Sheffield involvement in the top flight. You could be excused for failing to spot it.

Without referees there’s no game and there seems to be an ongoing drive to attract more people to take up the whistle, particularly youngsters for whom there can be a pretty quick path through, although it helps if you’re good along the way.

One would have thought any sort of positive publicity would help on that score. The refereeing authorities should be encouraging ‘feelgood’ tales about refs and refereeing - goodness knows, they get enough bad press.

But those in charge of our referees seem happy to let their men slip under the radar. Refs themselves are petrified to do anything other than keep quiet and toe the line. Say nowt and have nowt, however positive, said about them.

Those connected with refereeing in this city were proud when Craig Pawson got Sheffield’s name back in the top flight with his promotion to the Elite List of referees in the summer.

So, all those interested awaited his first Premier League game as an Elite List ref (he did take charge of Swansea-Newcastle last March when still a Football League, ie National League, ref).

You would have thought someone might think it beneficial to the refereeing cause to flag up - even afterwards - that a young man who began his refereeing in Sheffield as a teenager, had taken charge of his first Premier League game this season.

It happened to be Fulham v Cardiff two Saturdays ago. But not a word. What an opportunity missed to say look where he started and where he’s got to. Perhaps a chance to encouraging the next generation. But not a word. It’s like a closed shop. Red card!

*It’s trial by television for under-pressure Blades boss David Weir on Sunday. Let’s hope his next interview comes across better than his last one!

He’ll hope, too, his players pull out that bit extra in front of the all-seeing cameras. Many more people, not least in Saudi Arabia, will be watching and be judge and jury. A bad result, a bad display could, by nature of that exposure, prove fatally damaging.