FSA Representatives meet with PGMOL

February 29, 2024

It seems hardly a weekend passes without a referee or VAR decision coming under intense media scrutiny and, as supporters, we’ve all experienced decisions involving our team with which we disagreed.

However, the FSA (Football Supporters’ Association) is very keen to develop dialogue between referees and supporters so that we all understand each other a little better. From the FSA’s point of view, it’s a good thing if those at the top of the game – be they club officials or refs – know where fans are coming from.

That’s taken some good steps forward in recent seasons and, in the men’s game, our supporter representatives regularly meet with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited aka PGMOL.

Only last month the FSA announced the creation of a new working group to explore ways in which fans can learn more about refereeing and decision-making and it is hoped that this will support a more transparent and open view of refereeing in the professional game.

So, we were very pleased that HCST Secretary, Peter Tarbitten, was asked by the FSA to represent Championship supporter groups in attending a recent PGMOL referee camp as an observer. The event was a full day session at Loughborough University for Premier League and Championship referees and reflected a normal training day that the referees regularly attend.

 Also in attendance were Jane Hughes (FSA EFL Network Manager), Thomas Concannon (Premier League Network Manager), Joe Blott (Spirit of Shankley) and Neil Dady (Wolves 1877 Trust).  

After the sessions, we caught up with Peter to get his view of the day.

HCST: What’s the thinking behind this meeting with PGMOL?

Peter: It’s an introductory meeting as every FSA Network gets a chance to understand training and development for referees and PGMOL in order to pass that info onto members. There’ll be a number of these and it’s an opportunity to understand things from the referee’s perspective. To humanise them. It was really good to be able to interact with over 70 referees and assistants from the top 2 leagues in the country.

HCST: What did you expect?

Peter: I didn’t know what to expect to be honest but the dedication, the training, and the preparation… I wasn’t prepared for that level but once they started it was such an eye opener. There were different workshops throughout the day on a variety of subjects. One was a dissection of recent decisions made by the officials to see if the right call had been made and why a particular decision was made. Another looked at the teamwork between the 4 officials (and sometimes VAR) to see where mistakes were made and lessons could be learnt.

Another one dealt with the body language of the officials. Obviously, the players can hear what the referee is saying but the crowds can’t and they rely a lot on their body language, so it is very important.

The whole day revolved around how to ensure that the referees are at top fitness and for them to continually learn and improve.

There were a lot of things that, despite having attended games and watched them on the TV for over 50 years, I hadn’t even thought about in relation to how they’re reacting to the game. The fact that, during a normal 90-minute game, the referee has to make close to 300 decisions I found quite astonishing, and I no longer watch a game in the same way!

I think every fan should have the opportunity to understand that – it could be a documentary series.

The FSA will continue to work closely with the PGMOL but it is essential that we understand what the general supporter would like to see us discussing, so if anyone, especially supporters of Championship clubs, has any thoughts that they’d like to share with me, I would ask them to send them to me by clicking the following secretary@hullcityst.com.

Tags: , ,