Paul Merson thinks that Keith Stroud should be ‘applauded’ after his massive mistake on Wednesday night.

The referee somehow getting one of the basic rules of the game wrong when not allowing Newcastle to retake their penalty, instead giving a free-kick after Dwight Gayle encroached into the penalty area.

Paul Merson says that because the referee apologised after the game, he ‘should be applauded’.

The clueless pundit compares Stroud’s actions (the apology) to other referees who get decisions wrong but don’t come out and say sorry. Merson sums up the difficult job officials have, by saying that sometimes he and his fellow pundits sometimes watch 10 or more replays of an incident and still don’t know for sure what the right decision should have been.

Whether Paul Merson is missing the point on purpose is hard to tell but what happened with Keith Stroud on Wednesday is completely different to a normal mistake referees make, such as a hand ball, a missed foul, giving a penalty that shouldn’t have been and so on…or even only last Saturday, when Keith Stroud totally missed a Leeds defender stamping on a Reading player’s head. Something that the FA rectified in retrospect only hours before Newcastle’s game on Wednesday night, handing Liam Cooper a six match ban for the offence that Stroud and his officials missed.

The officials are human and obviously are going to get things wrong when relying just on the naked eye but the Newcastle penalty blunder was a basic rule of the game. Pretty much everybody else inside ST James Park knew the rule was for it to be retaken and that is why there was so much anger.

It is also hard to believe that not one of the other three match officials didn’t try to chance the referee’s mind by pointing out what the rule is.

Certainly Rafa Benitez and his coaching staff were trying to do that but for whatever reason Keith Stroud refused to listen, even after some four or five minutes of arguing on the touchline.

An apology was issued only minutes after the game but to claim that Keith Stroud was the one who instigated it, takes some believing.

It was the referees union, PGMOL (professional Game Match Officials Limited), who issued the statement (see below), in what was clearly a desperate attempt at damage limitation after such a serious basic mistake by one of their full-time referees.

The reality surely is that the PGMOL top brass hastily drew up the short statement/apology and were then in contact with Keith Stroud to inform him that this is what he had to put his name to.

As Paul Merson says, it would be great for referees to come out and explain major decisions after a game but this statement handed out to the media was a million miles away from that.

There hasn’t even been the slightest indication that Keith Stroud approached Rafa Benitez after the match to apologise in person for his behaviour – both in making the initial mistake AND refusing to listen when Rafa and others were trying to explain to him how he’d got something so badly wrong.

Paul Merson talking to the Daily Star:

“Referee Keith Stroud admitted he made a massive mistake in Newcastle’s game against Burton.

“But he should be applauded for apologising in my opinion.

He made a real gaffe ruling out Matt Ritchie’s penalty because of encroachment by a team-mate and he’s been ridiculed for it.

“But he’s held his hands up and said sorry through a statement after the game.

“How many refs ever do that? I think it’s great he’s done that and more refs should do it.

“They are too protected nowadays, especially in the Premier League. I actually think more refs would like to come out and explain big decisions sometimes.

“But they are not allowed to by the powers-that-be. I think that backfires on referees because people would have a lot more respect for them if we heard them defend themselves a bit more.

“Fans think they’re too aloof and they don’t care, but referees are bothered when they make a mistake. Who wouldn’t be?

“They do a tough job. We get to see things 10 times on replays and sometimes we’re still not sure whether a decision should have gone one way or another.”

Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) Statement after the Newcastle 1 Burton 0 final whistle on Wednesday 5 April:

“In this evening’s EFL Championship game between Newcastle United and Burton Albion, referee Keith Stroud awarded Newcastle a penalty in the 29th minute.

“As Matt Ritchie took the kick, Dwight Gayle encroached in the penalty area.

“An indirect free-kick was awarded to Burton but the laws of the game state that the penalty kick should have been taken.

“Unfortunately the referee has misapplied the law.

“Keith and his team are understandably upset at the lapse in concentration and apologise for the mistake.”



  • Taz

    The alcoholic is still going from last night. You don’t need to see a replay 10 times to know the rules. I hope he didn’t drive to work….. Paul, get some help, oh! and quit ya job, then things might make more sense, because at the moment you don’t.

  • Alex Wilkinson

    What they miss in the statement is that at least 6 players from both teams encroached so why pick on Gayle even if the rule was a free kick? That ref should be sacked as he’s incompetent!

  • Scottpaige

    Wish I had a job like this clown sitting in his padded sky chair !!!!!!!. So much for experts

  • Kneebotherm8

    This idiot has taken his plonker status to a new level, the ref made a calamitous error in applying the rules of the game full stop. We don’t need to see it 10 times to come to the same conclusion,it’s an absolutely horrendously incorrect decision,which took one nano second for everybody in the ground,and nationwide, to fathom out.As said, the apology has come instantly after the game from the PGMOL,and not at the referees behest. They needed to do that immediately to stop the game from coming into disrepute. Suffice to say,if this decision had been made against Arsenal or Villa,then he would have had a totally different take on events.

  • Big Al 1967

    The bloke should get pelters and not applause. He has apologised for a “lapse of concentration” and nothing else. This was no lapse this was a clown who is employed to enforce the rules of the game yet does not know how to apply the basic ones or even know what they are,,MUPPET!!

  • Stephen

    Merson seems like a nice fella, cracking footballer in his time and seems to have his ‘demons’ under control,hope it stays that way.
    But very rarely do we get anything close to a sensible comments from him.

  • Wor Lass

    Why does Merson feel the need to keep proving that he`s an idiot?

    • Desree

      Because he’s an idiot?

  • Alreet

    What a total fool. Saying stuff just to get noticed i think.

    Lets applaud all refs that mess up then apologise. He didnt apologise though. His union did.

    Never seen anything like that. There should never be a free kick the other way unless there is a fight or actual foul. Seen the same encroachment in the chelsea match but nothing doing.

    Get him sacked if he doesnt know the rules

  • mactoon

    But the ref didn’t apologise did he. It was a statement from the PGMOL?

  • Jimblag23

    I’m yet to see an apology. F*cking idiot.

  • Sing in the Leazes

    The PGMOL statement was a joke anyway. It blamed the mistake on a ‘momentary lapse in concentration’. That is definitely not possible.
    Think about what that means…

    50,000 fans
    plus 11 players,
    a manager
    and countless backroom staff
    all telling him that he’d got the rule wrong,
    with 3 members of his own team there to help him.

    oh yeah – and it went on for 7 minutes.

    So he ignored the lot, and only added 3 mins on at half time.

    That is definitely NOT a ‘momentary lapse in concentration’, the disingenuous b*stads. It’s a pig-headed arrogant fool who refuses to acknowledge reality. The denial being compounded by ignoring the time it took to happen and not adding it on, as if the whole thing had been a mass hallucination that only he in the whole ground was immune to.
    “Keith is understandably upset?” WTF?? He should be ashamed, embarrassed, mortified, etc.
    The whole PGMOL statement was an exercise in downplaying the incident. They knew they had to say something, so they came out with some blather that made it seem like nowt.
    It made me even more annoyed to be honest.
    When you remember Forest as well… grrrr…