Former Referee Tries To Defend Atkinson – But It’s Difficult


Newcastle United will be writing to the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL) board this week with a strongly-worded letter to  protest about the handling of their game at Eastlands by referee Martin Atkinson.

Martin Atkinson – under fire for incompetent handling of Eastland’s game

Former top referee Keith Hackett, who is now 66,  stepped down from the PGMOL in the summer, but apparently still works with the Premier League as a consultant – and has today asked for some calm amid the growing storm over the game at Eastlands last Sunday.

This is what Keith told the Evening Chronicle today:

“The very nature of the game is that referees are going to be criticised. But as much as people might want to criticise him, the referee didn’t make the challenge, that is important to remember,”   “I don’t want to pre-judge this particular situation while correspondence is still ongoing between the FA and Newcastle United, but what I will say about Martin is that he is an elite referee, he is on the UEFA and FIFA list.”

“Martin is an international referee in the highest echelons.” “If he has made a mistake – and I’m not saying this is what this is – then it is an honest mistake.”  “And the injury is obviously something that affects you as a referee.” “You eat, sleep and breathe the game and when something like that happens, of course you are going to go over it.”

“Let’s put it in perspective – on average there are about 2,000 events which referees have to make a judgement on in any one game, many of them split second decisions.”  “And the majority of them are called absolutely correctly, which is part of the reason why serious injuries are so rare.”

“It is not as easy as putting the decision over to someone watching it on a screen, which is a route than neither the FA or FIFA are prepared to go down and have shown no willingness to go down.”  “I know that the issue of reckless challenges is a very live debate at the moment, but I think there is a determination to cut it out in the game,”

“I thought that the statement by Gordon Taylor, who came out and made a plea to cut out this type of challenge on a fellow pro, was very good.” “The Dutch manager was also pretty unequivocal in the way that he dealt with it too which says plenty.” “When I was leading the PGMOL we went into clubs and talked to managers and players about it and there was an agreement on the part of everyone that these kind of challenges were unacceptable.”

“As referees you have two options that have been agreed on by all parties.” “If it is a reckless challenge then you have to give a yellow card, but if it is a reckless challenge endangering another player then that has to be a straight red – that has always been the rule. It is up to the referees to put that into practice.”

There’s a lot of defending of  the referee’s actions in that statement by Keith, and we suppose as a former referee himself, that’s not surprising.

Keith was listed from 1976 until 1992 as a Football League referee, and was a Premier League referee from 1992 until 1994, and he was a FIFA listed Referee from 1981 until 1991.

De Jong’s two-footed challenge on Ben Arfa was not even thought to be a foul by referee Atkinson, and when you look at the challenge again on TV, it was a two footed and ridiculously wild  lunge,  that took the player and the ball out together.

And don’t buy into the myth that if you get the ball that doesn’t mean it’s also a foul – there’s nowhere in the rules of football that say that – it’s just that pundits that have made that one up.

If the challenge was not reckless then we’re not sure what is, and since it broke Ben Arfa’s leg in two places, it had to therefore endanger the player – so he should have received a red card. QED

Comments welcome.

QED is usually put at the end of  theorems when they have been proved, and is Latin for  quod erat demonstrandum, which basically means it has been demonstrated.



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18 comments so far

  • GallowgateDJC

    Oct 7, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Comment #1

    2,000 events to make judgement on? You would think that a blatant penalty and Ben Arfa having his leg broken in two would both be very straight forward decisions for the ref.

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  • Brisvegas

    Oct 7, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    Comment #2

    He might make 2000 decisions a game but most of them are pretty basic. I probably make that many getting out of bed and having a shower. What about major decisions? What about the the penalty decisions? What about making consistently bad decisions against one team?

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  • daneevz

    Oct 7, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Comment #3

    I Think the decisions made in that game where awfull and not only for the tragic injury that led to our potenial legend to break his leg. If that wasnt a reckless challenge what is a tackle causing death!And the quotation above that refs make 2000 decisions a game fair enough is true but i believe he made 3 of the biggests decision in the game all wrong. Hope Newcastle achieve something from this and atleast a ban for N.DeJong.

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  • antmanbee

    Oct 7, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    Comment #4

    There’s that word again. Elite. Of the highest quality, the top minority percentage…

    We all know good reffing when we see it, which often does not include ignoring linesmen better placed to see incidents, (particularly, key incidents), such as Citeh’s penalty.
    He was even closer to the Shola incident, but took it upon himself to ignore it, which doesn’t smack of a man who wonders…just wonders if he got the first one right or not, and may need to ‘even things up’. The fact Shola’s was a stone-waller just makes it worse on top of the HBA/1st pen misery.
    This does not present the case of him being the cream of his profession, when he doesn’t even fully utilise the remaining officials to ensure that the highest possible percentage of right decisions are made throughout the course of a game. That to me would constitute a man at the top of his profession.

    It smells more of his own sense of importance…HE”S the ref…HE makes the decisions, regardless. Verrrry professional…
    Elite=Unaccountable.

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  • stuart no9

    Oct 7, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    Comment #5

    what the f..k is hacket rambling on about, talk about “TRYING” to defend one of his fellow refs, “you make 2000 decisions in any one game”” may be, but who else apart from twatkinson can get 2ooo totally wrong, so he”s on fifa”s list , look no further than mein fuhrer sepp blatter to understand what corrupt, gangsters run that show, you just have to look back at the world cup to see the laughable incompetant jokers they call refs, believe me , thats nothing to be proud about, and what we must all remember is ” he did not commit the foul” WHAT? f k off HACKETT, AND DONT INSULT OUR INTELLIGENCE

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  • chuck

    Oct 7, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    Comment #6

    So far no one has mentioned money, which is the real motivation behind the game.
    The EPL being the worlds richest league is obsessed by selling the tv rights, therefor increasing revenue on an annual basis.
    The game by it`s nature, faster, more physical, a game that also attracts the worlds best players due to the clubs ability to pay the highest average wages of any league.
    All reasons why it attracts a worldwide audience.
    Apparently the idea is, why change things when what we have now, works.
    Therefor the lack of any will to make changes.
    There`s the availability through video to ensure the proper decisions are made, I`m certainly not advocating taking the job out of the hands of referees, but in certain critical situations, fouls, goal line, etc. the governing bodies are reluctant to introduce technology that can reverse poor decisions made by the officials, some which may decide the outcome of the game.
    As for serious injuries caused on the pitch, there`s no reason why any player should be shielded from assault charges, any more than if the assault ac-cured off the pitch.
    It seems the FA are reluctant or lack the courage to instruct the officials in making the decisions necessary to stamp out the present violence, which may in fact result in audiences turning away from the game.
    A prime example would be to take the WC final which disgusted most audiences, consisting of a team who`s tactics were to kick their opponents off the pitch, simply because they could`nt compete by playing football.
    Do the governing bodies, FIFA, EUAFA, The FA, realize that the reason they exist is not merely to generate wealth, but to govern the game in order to make it as attractive as possible to a worldwide audience.
    Yes Football is and hopefully will continue to be the worlds most popular sport, but one has only to look at the NBA in the US who during the nineties was generating enormous wealth, but for various reasons failed to reach a worldwide audience, because of a lack of foresight on the part of the governing body, the NBA.

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  • BeeGuy

    Oct 7, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Comment #7

    If NUFC players would just quit nagging at the refs, the refs would be less cranky and call a fair game. Now they are indifferent to the fouls on NUFC & willing to penalize NUFC for every little thing. . The NUFC players need to shut up, play the game & leave the refs to do the calls.

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  • xfer

    Oct 7, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Comment #8

    Atkinson had a horrific game that cost us the game, period.

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  • stuart no9

    Oct 7, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    Comment #9

    beeguy
    you coudnt be more wrong if you tried,i think that has been our down fall , over the years we hav”nt done a man u, or a chelsea, or many other teams for that matter , and assaulted the referee”s for not giving us as much as a throw in, the fact that we just walk away , has left us with a bit of a reputation for being a soft touch, imagine if that had been man u and fergie, the decision WOULD have been differant, because atkinson would not dare to give any thing else for the fear of verball abuse from fergie, it would interesting to know who you support

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  • terencemag

    Oct 7, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    Comment #10

    Martin Atkinson was assigned as the referee for last season Manchester derby match and he did the same thing for both matches-help ManUtd to secure a win.

    He was trying to cover that or act like he was not against ManCity by costing us points.

    Another corrupted referee by the South East Asian bookie.

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  • dave 1961

    Oct 7, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    Comment #11

    this is a joke Martin Atkinson is either the most incompetent referee in football history or he takes bribes, he had only one agenda and that was a man city win he was determined to deliver this by any means possible he had total disregard for any Newcastle player, we only need look back to the wolves game to see how referees treat Newcastle players, with total contempt, I pray that Atkinson is involved in a motoring accident and loses his legs, I have so much contempt (hatred) for Atkinson that if I was to be given a month to live I would use the time to put a bullet in the back of his head, or maybe hack his legs off with a machete. I know it a fallacy that ostriches bury their head’s but the English fa do up there own a**e’s. I have contempt for the lot of them, I am searching out the 2018 world cup delegates to try and screw up there bid, I have had a letter from them today saying they intend to do nothing against de jong the assassin. and they have challenged me to try to wreck their bid I might be ill but not that bad I won’t take them on, and in advance I would like to apologise to anyone that had fancied the world cup you can watch it on the telly. also I will try to get the details of Atkinson’s phone & address and put it on the gay websites.

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  • 619nufc

    Oct 7, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Comment #12

    In the Premier League there are some extremely good referees, Howard Webb, Mark Clattenburg, Mike Riley etc…

    Mr Atkinson, however, is not on this list

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  • dave 1961

    Oct 7, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Comment #13

    Howard webb he’s a kung fu reff aint he

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  • dave 1961

    Oct 7, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    Comment #14

    i have just made a complaint to the greater mancheste police asking them to investigate this as a case of gbh i have sent a few details but expect nothing to be done but why not try.

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  • moonraker

    Oct 7, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    Comment #15

    That’s a lot of words from Hackett to admit that Atkinson made a horrendous mistake in not sending off De Jong !!!

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  • Thump

    Oct 7, 2010 at 10:45 PM

    Comment #16

    It isn’t even just the de Jong challenge – the 2 pen decisions that even Manchester United’s very own Howard Webb could have got right… he’s a piss poor excuse for a referee.

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  • Sav

    Oct 7, 2010 at 11:38 PM

    Comment #17

    If that’s an example of Hackett’s thinking then its high time the rambling old codger was put out to pasture – and Atkinson with him.
    2000 incidents in a 90 minute game?
    The poinbt is, there were 3 decisive incidents in the ManCity v Newcastle game – and Atko got them all wrong.

    By the way, what’s an ‘echelon’ anyway, and do they have low ones?
    – Perhaps its a collective noun for a large group of referees, something like a conclave of cardinals?

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  • DarloGeordie

    Oct 8, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Comment #18

    What about the 1 single decision to take a back hander off the siteh pimp…

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