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Paul Merson says Newcastle blunder referee should be applauded

3 years ago
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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.”

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