Sport Soccer

Monday 20 November 2017

Allardyce has sympathy for ‘overworked’ match officials

Mark Bryans

REFEREES struggle to officiate at their best during the festive period as they are overworked, according to West Ham manager Sam Allardyce.

Anthony Taylor dismissed West Ham striker Carlton Cole and Everton's Darron Gibson during the Toffees' 2-1 win at Upton Park on Saturday but both red cards have since been rescinded following successful appeals.

Allardyce reckons the pool of professional referees is not big enough to cope with the congested fixture schedule over Christmas and New Year and believes tiredness can lead to officials making the wrong call.

"This is a difficult period for referees," he said. "Why do they always seem to make more wrong decisions now? It's probably because they are overworked and they are fatigued.

"The system has to be looked at and in my opinion it's because they are fatigued. Referees are travelling all over the country and out in Europe and have been since the start of the season.

"There's not enough of them. They try their very best to get things consistently right. But it happens every year around this time of year, the controversy.

"We had a couple in our last game and there have been many throughout football over the Christmas period.

"Fatigue is everything in terms of decision making. Once it kicks in you lose the ability to make those decisions correctly."

Former Blackburn boss Allardyce thinks more money should be made available for the training of new officials.

"We've had professional refs for 12 years and the Premier League and PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) and Football Association should treble the budget and create an academy of referees," he said.

"They need to ease the load on the referees we have. The game needs to move on and look at recruiting better refs from all avenues."

Cole is now available to feature in West Ham's Barclays Premier League clash with struggling Reading on Saturday and Allardyce is pleased to have the former Chelsea man in his squad for the trip to the Madejski Stadium.

He said: "The best news this week is Cole's red card being overturned.

"I wasn't surprised at the Cole decision but I was anxious, in the past what has looked like a good case has not been turned over. In this case we're very pleased to have him with us for a very important time of the year.

"He's playing very well, leading the line for us and in terms of creative play he's the pinnacle for us with his hold-up play. He's scored a superb goal against Everton and we're seeing the Carlton Cole we all want to see consistently - I hope he can keep it up because he's a big threat to anyone.

"Carlton isn't going to change hugely any more but he's far more consistent in my time here than I expected before I arrived based on the perception of him. I've really enjoyed working with him and his company and personality."

Reading currently sit 19th in the table following their goalless draw with Swansea on Boxing Day.

Royals' boss Brian McDermott has criticised officials on a number of occasions this season and Allardyce sympathised with his counterpart.

"I hear McDermott complain bitterly about some of the decisions he's had to suffer on a considerable amount of game," he said.

"I don't know if he's right but I've certainly suffered that myself in previous years in the Premier League.

"They do make an awful lot of difference, they don't even themselves out over the year and they can get managers the sack, especially when they happen at the wrong time on a consistent basis.

"It's not the only reason but it contributes - critical decisions against you end with you getting no points. We should always bear that in mind."

West Ham have been struck by a number of injuries in recent weeks but welcomed midfield duo Jack Collison and Alou Diarra back into the first-team squad for the Everton game.

Ricardo Vaz Te has also returned to training with Andy Carroll likely to join him in the next week although on-loan Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun is expected to return to his parent club over the next few days after having his second spell at Upton Park disrupted by injury.

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