I HAVE a quick and easy solution to help clear up any misunderstanding with regards to the offside rule.
If a player is standing in an offside position then the referee’s assistant should put up his or her flag.
All of the confusion created by trying to decide who is and isn’t interfering with play is also easily solved – if you are on the field of play then you are interfering.
Managers and players are heavily censured if they come out and say what they think about controversial decisions, but who can blame them when nobody seems to know what is going on.
We saw it at Newcastle and at Chesterfield last weekend and while, ultimately, the decisions at both games may not have changed the result, on many occasions they do.
And the stakes are high. It doesn’t matter whether you are going for the Premier League title or trying to stave off relegation from the Football League, a dodgy offside decision can have severe consequences.
One thing that strikes me, as a former player, is that when you get experienced pros coming out like Richard Hinds admitting they don’t fully understand the rules then something has to change.
Another thing to consider from a player’s perspective is the length of time the officials are taking to make these decisions.
When they are forced to stand around in the cold, waiting for the result of a conference between the referee and assistant, as Bury had to do on Saturday, the tempo and rhythm can go from the game.
If we went back to basics then these discussions would not be necessary.
Tony Harrington, the referee at Bury’s match on Saturday, did not have a great game, in my opinion.
As well as overruling his assistant to give Chesterfield’s third goal, he also sent off Danny Mayor for a challenge that, having looked back at it, I would say there was no way in a million years it warranted a straight red card.
I know Danny, and with all due respect, he couldn’t tackle his dinner, it’s not in his game.
David Flitcroft was right when he said the referee robbed the fans of the right to see both teams play on an equal footing.
I also agree with him that Chesterfield were clearly the better side, but I don’t think it is right to make knee-jerk reactions.
The Proact Stadium is a hell of a hard place to go and I would say the nucleus of the Bury squad is there, it’s just that you will get these inconsistencies as Flickers tries to build his team.
Lastly, may I again pass on my thoughts and condolences to the family of Keith Freeman – a real Bury fan who I remember fondly from my time as a player. He will be sadly missed.