This week’s guest on our weekly Voices Of Soccer interview show is former Premier League referee Mark Halsey who has published a book authored by writer and journalist Ian Ridley entitled Added Time: Surviving Cancer, Death Threats and the Premier League.
Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey was the longest-serving full-time professional referee in the English game when he retired at the end of the 2012/13 season after a career that took in three seasons officiating in the Football League and a remarkable 14 in the Premier League. Halsey is now a refereeing pundit for BT Sport.
In the one hour interview, Halsey discusses:
• How the Premier League tried to prevent the book from being published by planting stories in the press and scaring the original book publisher from printing the book,
• Halsey’s battle with throat cancer and how he beat the life-threatening illness,
• Why and how the PGMOL’s incompetence (at the executive level) is damaging the Premier League’s standard of refereeing,
• The inefficiencies throughout the Premier League and FA refereeing system where refs work under the fear factor and are too scared to speak up,
• His relationships with top managers, and how he believes he was unfairly overlooked for the FA Cup Final,
• How Halsey has been unfairly treated, and how even his own former referee colleagues aren’t allowed to speak to him about footballing matters,
• Insight into what it’s like being a referee in the Premier League,
• And much more.
Regarding the referees working under the fear factor, Halsey said:
“I’m telling you now the Select Group of referees are very, very frightened. They’re grown men — 45, 46, 50, 51 years of age. And they won’t say ‘boo’ to the management because they’re know that [the PGMOL and/or Premier League] may take it out on them.”
Halsey delivers several damning indictments into refereeing in the Premier League, including the lack of a support structure and lack of counseling that’s available to Premier League referees who are under immense pressure, particularly in instances where they’re on the receiving end of death threats and under the microscope from the press and football supporters. Halsey was asked whether he received any backup, support or counseling from the league or PGMOL:
“Not really, no. I remember last season when I missed that horrendous challenge by Callum McManaman, Wigan versus Newcastle. It was a horrendous challenge. Obviously a player ran straight in front of me as it happened, so I didn’t have a clue what had happened.