Ref Review with Mark Halsey: Arsenal can have no complaints

After 38 weeks of excitement, it all came down to the final weekend of Premier League football where quite literally nothing was up for grabs, bar a battle for 4th place which lasted all of 45 minutes.

However,‘s Mark Halsey is back for one final time before heading off for the summer to run the rule once again and give his choices for the top three referees of the season…


Michael Oliver                 (Arsenal vs Everton)

I don’t think Koscielny can have any complaints with his dismissal, it was a reckless challenge with excessive force endangering the player’s safety. It was at speed and he was out of control, why on earth was he making a challenge of that nature when the following week Arsenal have a game against Chelsea in the FA Cup final? Nobody can complain about Michael’s decision.

Once again, Arsenal can have no complaints about the penalty being awarded. His arms are out and the thing that makes it deliberate is the way he moves his arm towards the ball, once again Michael was absolutely spot on to award the penalty kick to Everton.

I read some comments saying it was the poorest Michael had refereed but looking at the key decisions, he’s got them all right and that’s what you want from a referee in this day and age.

Neil Swarbrick                 (Chelsea vs Sunderland)

I’ve refereed John Terry over the course of many years, I even refereed him in the reserve league but I take my hat off to Chelsea and Sunderland for agreeing to it. He’s been there for 22 years, there was nothing to play for and I thought it was class what happened.

I’m a player’s referee, I’m sentimental and I thought Terry got what he deserved. We’ve had words on the pitch but that’s how it is and I’ve no issue at all with what happened during the game.


Martin Atkinson             (Liverpool vs Middlesbrough)

Bamford was clean through and Lovren has brought him down, it’s a clear penalty and a red card. I thought Martin was a bit unlucky, you can ask whether he anticipated play quick enough and perhaps he could have gone left or right to get a better view but Matip ran straight in front of him and it’s blocked his line of vision.

At that point you would want the assistant (Stuart Burt) to get involved. When a referee gives nothing the alarm bells start ringing, Stuart has a great view, it’s on his side and he hasn’t got an offside to look for. He should have come in and that flag should have gone straight up to tell Martin it’s a clear penalty, all top class officials come in and help their referee but he didn’t come in and help him.


Top Three Referees of the Season

Well Mark Clattenburg is out of the equation but he was the best, him and Martin Atkinson were miles apart from the rest. If Mark is out of the equation I think without a doubt Martin Atkinson has been the best, Michael Oliver has had a great season but that third spot is difficult.

Neil Swarbrick has had a great season but he hasn’t done the big games, that third place is probably between Marriner and Taylor. I think out of all of them it’s probably Andre Marriner who takes that third spot, but I’m very pleased with the progress of Bobby Madley. I like him, he’s a work-in-progress but I like the way he referees games, he lets the game flow and he talks to players.

With quality coaching, which is severely lacking at present, Bobby could become a top referee. One has to ask the question, me, Howard Webb, Steve Bennett, Mark Clattenburg are all plying their trade elsewhere coaching, why are we not involved in the English game coaching referees?


The Offside Rule Podcast would like to thank Mark for his insightful contributions throughout the 2016/17 season.

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