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Bridge battlers Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel were only two managers to miss referee briefings


Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, left, clashes with Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, left, clashes with Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, left, clashes with Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel, the warring coaches from Sunday’s battle of Stamford Bridge, were the only two who did not attend the pre-season briefing laid on for the 20 Premier League managers by the referees’ organisation, it can be revealed.

Tuchel, of Chelsea, and Tottenham’s Conte have been charged with improper conduct after their sides’ 2-2 draw. The two managers have until Thursday to provide their respective responses to the charges.

The Football Association is now investigating the Chelsea manager’s post-match remarks, in which he suggested referee Anthony Taylor was biased against his club and should not officiate their games any longer. Taylor sent off both men after the final whistle following a clash that had begun with Tuchel holding on to Conte’s hand after they shook. They had squared up during the game.

The Premier League encourages all managers to attend one of the two briefings by the referees’ body, Professional Game Match Officials, so that they can be told of any law changes or parts of the law referees will focus on in the forthcoming season, as well as ask questions.

In addition, Chelsea could provide an early test case for how effective the new system of assessment – introduced this season as part of the Elite Referee Development Plan – is if the panel decides to support their opinions on Taylor’s performance.

Issues raised at the managers’ briefings included penalising players more heavily for time-wasting with an emphasis on keeping the ball in play longer than last season’s average – just 55 minutes and seven seconds across all 380 Premier League games. Taylor booked Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy on Sunday for taking too much time releasing the ball.

There is frustration at the ferocity of criticism aimed at Taylor, and PGMOL as a whole, by Tuchel despite the German not attending the briefing. There are two identical briefings held, one for the northern-based clubs and one in London for those in the south. Tuchel and Conte were notable by their absence and neither sent an assistant.

Both clubs have indicated their respective managers were ill at the time of the briefing, which they had intended to attend. Conte sent a letter of apology to PGMOL.

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Tuchel launched a wide-ranging attack on Taylor’s performance and there is also dismay at the conduct of the two managers during the game.

PGMOL, which is owned by the Premier League, the FA and the Football League, has tried to speak directly to managers about the challenges facing referees and explaining the rationale behind their interpretation of the law, on-field and with VAR.

It is understood Tuchel attended the PGMOL briefing for the Chelsea squad. The organisation performs the same service for all 20 clubs before the season starts.

Chelsea will wait for the report from a newly formed independent panel of referee assessors before deciding whether to file a complaint over the performance of Taylor. Sources indicate that Taylor will not be taken off Chelsea games for good, as Tuchel suggested.

This season Premier League clubs are receiving weekly independent reports on the standard of officiating, which are put together by a panel of three former players, a Premier League representative and a PGMOL official.

It is unclear whether the PGMOL would act as a direct result of the report, but Chelsea could use it to help submit a complaint or back up their grievances about Taylor and his VAR, Mike Dean.

The panel sit on Thursday, which means Chelsea will not receive the report on their game against Tottenham until towards the end of the week.

All clubs get the full report on the weekend’s games, meaning all managers and directors can see where errors have been highlighted.

The major organisations in the game, the Premier League, FA and EFL have also come together to promote better supporter behaviour at games after a number of incidents at the end of last season.

A joint statement also released with the Football Supporters’ Association last month called upon fans to resist running on to the pitch and using smoke grenades. It also emphasised the role of managers and players in promoting better behaviour.

It said: “We are working with clubs to highlight the important role that fans, clubs, players and coaches all have to play in helping to create a safe environment.”

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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