Keith Stroud found fame as the referee who didn’t know the most basic rules of the game last season, refusing to allow Matt Ritchie to retake a penalty against Burton, after Dwight Gayle had encroached into the box.

What made it all the more embarrassing was that none of the other three match officials knew the rules either, plus the match was held up for a considerable period of time with Rafa Benitez and his players trying to get Keith Stroud to listen to reason. However, he refused and the match finally continued, Newcastle eventually narrowly winning 1-0.

The match was played on 5 April 2017 and although no official statement was made, Keith Stroud and the other three officials were all removed from the matches they were listed to be working at in the following few days.

After a few weeks, the two linesmen and the fourth official were quietly returned to action, given roles in various EFL matches as the season came to a close – but still no sign of Keith Stroud.

Coming back to the present day and the EFL have announced the 18 officials on their Select Group Two Referees list for this season….and Keith Stroud is back on the list! Obviously the final month of last season seen as a fitting punishment.

The Mag – 3 May 2017:

The Newcastle v Burton game saw one of the talking points of the season.

A less than exciting game was brought to life via one of the worst decisions by match officials in living memory, with Keith Stroud and the other three officials somehow managing collectively to get one of the basic rules of the game wrong.

Matt Ritchie was not allowed to retake a penalty after Dwight Gayle was ruled to have encroached into the box when the spot-kick was taken.

There was no official confirmation of suspensions for the four match officials involved but clearly they were banned, as the following weeks saw none of them involved in EFL matches.

Former referees chief Keith Hackett claimed (see below) that the bans were 28 days for Keith Stroud, then only 14 days for fourth official Tony Harrington and linesmen Matthew McGrath and David Avent.

This Sunday 7 May sees the final Championship games of the season and the EFL has confirmed the officials up to that point in the second tier, plus play-off games this week in Leagues One and Two.

Sunday is 28 days after the Newcastle v Burton match that was on 5 April and still no sign of Keith Stroud anywhere.

However, the fourth official from that NUFC v Burton game, Tony Harrington, was in charge on Saturday when refereeing Leeds 3 Norwich 3, Monk’s side coming back from three down. That game being 24 days after Harrington was involved in the St James Park fiasco.

Tony Harrington has also been named as fourth official tomorrow night (4 May) for the Bradford v Fleetwood League One semi-final play-off game, whilst he is also scheduled to be referee on Sunday (7 May) when Brentford host Blackburn, in that vital relegation game for Rovers. So it looks as though he has been seen as having served his punishment.

Likewise, Matthew McGrath was one of the linesmen on Saturday (29 April) for Fulham 1 Brentford 1, that coming 24 days after he filled the same role at St James Park. He is also named as linesman this coming Sunday (7 May) for the Norwich v QPR clash.

The other linesmen from the Newcastle v Burton game was David Avent. He has been named as a linesman for Rotherham v Derby on Sunday (7 May), this being his first game 28 days after playing his part at SJP.

Difficult to see Keith Stroud being brought back for any of the key play-off matches this month, so probably the start of next season will see him slip back into refereeing, hopefully not in the Premier League…

Keith Hackett 16 April 2017:

“In the heat of the battle top referee Keith Stroud recently awarded an indirect free-kick when encroachment at the taking of a penalty kick took place and the goal having been scored was disallowed.

“The law is clear that in this situation the penalty kick should be retaken. However, after discussion with his colleagues, the referee went with the advice offered by one of his assistant referees and awarded an indirect free-kick.

“The error hit the headlines and whilst it impacted on the score it did not impact on the result. I have no doubt that a suspension was appropriate and for me three games should be sufficient.

“However at such an important part of the season Keith Stroud has apparently been served with a 28-day suspension and his colleagues 14 days.

“This frankly is draconian and means that Keith might be punished by a loss of five or more games. When I look at the recent punishments that are handed out to managers it appears to me that match officials are soft targets who will not say anything.

“So I will suggest to the Football Association that they need to look again at how they treat officials fairly for all please.”



  • East Durham Mag

    What did everyone expect Keith Hackett to say? He was always going to defend Keith Stroud. Its a schoolboy error but its gone now. We’ve had unfair treatment from the b*stard in the black shirt before and i’m sure it will happen again. Uriah Rennie comes to mind.

    • Geordiegiants

      Rennie was a fame hungry attention seeker. Terrible terrible referee, only in place as the the token black referee, and his blatant hatred for NUFC was only over looked as the race card would of been pulled.

  • Leazes Ender

    The biggest blunder I’ve ever seen, when all of the officials don’t know the basic rules they should be made to re-sit examinations.

  • Gary Barber

    The referee of the Notts Forest game was far worse!

    • Geordiegiants

      Yeah his decisions were truly shocking, but we’re open to interpretation. Strouds wasn’t.

      • Gary Barber

        I agree, not knowing a simple rule between 4 of them was about as bad as it gets, but it was one bad decision. The Notts game the ref gave two red cards that were later rescinded, disallowed a perfectly good goal and generaly made poor/bad decisionns throughout the game, and at the end of it with 9 men we just lost, at least against Burton we just won.