Referees have been under orders this season to let games flow as freely and legally as possible and that can’t happen when they’re blowing the whistle for free kicks all the time.
Harmless bans prevent fans from seeing a free game of top-level football.
The opening weekend of the Premier League brought several examples where, in the past, it might have been tempting to put the whistles on the lips. But a higher threshold for fouls now applies. Players, coaches and clubs know this approach too. Everyone had shared this information before the start of the season and it was well received.
“I was VAR at West Ham against Manchester City. There were times when Michail Antonio, trying to keep the ball up, could have hoped for a free-kick to give his side some time and a chance to push up the pitch,” former referee Mike Dean writes for the Daily Mail.
“But Michael Oliver mostly let the game go on and to Antonio’s credit, he wasn’t in the referee’s ear complaining. The players understand what we are trying to do for the good of the games.”
“Also, we want to reduce the delay of restarting the game and we will take a proactive approach to this. We don’t want the fans to be left waiting while the players delay the opposing player from taking a penalty, for example.”
The referees will try to be strong on this one – and Craig Pawson was at the weekend when he warned Everton’s Yerry Mina as Chelsea’s Jorginho was waiting to shoot from the spot.
“We want the players to work with us to move things along as quickly as possible.”
“You may remember last season, Chelsea against Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 2, when Timo Werner’s goal was disallowed for a foul in the build-up.”
“I was VAR that day. Cesar Azpilicueta grabbed the ball from Kyle Walker-Peters upfield and about 20 seconds later, Werner scored. “Chelsea won 3-1 regardless, although let’s just say Thomas Tuchel wasn’t happy with me denying him,” continues Dean.
PGMOL listened to feedback – including comments from coaches like Tuchel – and made changes.
“This season, that Werner goal would stand for two reasons. One, because the threshold for fouling is higher. And two, we don’t want to go back that far in one phase of the game to rule out an offside goal.”
“So that’s what referees, assistants and VARs want to put into practice and there was evidence of that during this opening weekend.”
“It’s satisfying for a referee when they let the game flow and it leads to a team scoring – Lord knows I get asked about that Tottenham goal against Aston Villa all the time when I’m lost in celebrating my lead . But this is what we want.”
“Football is confrontation and competition. If it’s a foul, it’s a foul and the referees will blow the whistle because we won’t let unfair challenges go unpunished,” added the former referee who will now be alone in the VAR room. it as a leader.
It was a good start to the season by a talented group of referees and Dean believes there will be some flowing football this season.