In light of the highlighted decisions made in the Southampton-Liverpool and Chelsea-Burnley games this weekend, a big question is being asked: Does the standard of refereeing in the Premier League need looked at and possibly revised?
To me, arguably a traditionalist, I would say the answer is no. Certainly goal-line judges like that used in the World Cup could be brought in but their focus has never really been on policing the game and they, unlike the linesman, cannot have a direct influence on the game in terms of stopping play for fouls committed. A writer over at NBC Sports suggested an additional referee much like in the NFL of NBA, but this only serves to fragment a game with no clear stoppages. In American football for example, each play has a set stop and start, so refereeing the game from multiple angles and viewpoints is much more possible. In football, the game is much more free-flowing with continuous play for minutes at a time possible. In fact, when taking fouls and offsides, the game will only stop on average 20-30 times in a 90+ minute occasion.
So what can be done then? The retroactive punishment the FA is using, such as the Diego Costa ban for his stamp on Emre Can for example, is part of what can help the game certainly. The problem of real-time refereeing is more than likely an issue that can’t ever be truly solved. The clear matter of fact is, bad decisions will be made. The NFL has seen some horrible calls despite employing the largest number of officials per game. Balls and strikes are still a constant issue for discussion in baseball games, and those are officiated by one umpire throughout the course of a game. Training could be another option, but it will not eradicate poor decisions.
In the end, to me at least, referees will be like anyone else: with good games and bad.