A Bad Weekend For Match Officials: Reviewing the Premier League Referee Decisions, Gameweek 21

Starting at St James’ Park, where the most controversial decision of the weekend took place. Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote hit a superb strike, which flew into the net, following a corner. There were three Newcastle players in an offside position as the ball left Tiote’s boot. As soon as the Newcastle players and fans celebrated the goal, Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart appealed for offside to the assistant referee. Referee Mike Jones communicated to his linesman via his earpiece before running over to discuss the decision.

To me, it looked a perfectly good goal and I was surprised when it was disallowed. The assistant referee initially did not raise his flag, which indicates that he either didn’t spot Yoan Gouffran in an offside position, or he didn’t deem him to be interfering with play. On replay, you can see Joe Hart shouting at the assistant “I couldn’t see anything”.

The picture below shows that the only players in the England number 1’s vision were Manchester City players. Gouffran is nowhere near Hart’s eye line. Mike Jones is in a decent position, but the force of the strike was so much that he was possibly taken aback at how quickly the City players disputed the goal.

Gouffran does move out of the way of the ball before it strikes the net as Hart was clearly beaten and made no attempt to dive it is hard to make a case for Gouffran being active and interfering with play. It would have been different had the ball hit Gouffran and deflected in. I think Mike Jones has made a bad call that has resulted in him being dropped for this weekend’s games. However, former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher believes that the officials came to the right decision. Speaking on Sky Sports News’ Monday View, Gallagher argued that Gouffran moving out of the way of the ball made him active. Therefore he was in an offside position. The laws of the game state:

A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

•        interfering with play or
•       interfering with an opponent or
•       gaining an advantage by being in that position

I am certain that Gouffran was not committing any of the above offences.

In the same game, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa made a very late challenge on Samir Nasri, which has resulted in the Frenchman being sidelined for eight weeks. Yanga-Mbiwa initially fouled Nasri from behind, before kicking out and swiping his left leg into Nasri’s knee. The Newcastle defender can count himself very fortunate to only receive a yellow card.

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