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Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby falseteeth0 Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:14 pm

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to the referee committee with my thoughts on the referees panel and the plans for 2012/13 season.


All the below is my opinion and not the views of Boardman & Eccles lacrosse club.

As you will be aware from the notification you have received from the NEMLA Management Committee, It will be a requirement for the start of the 2012 season for clubs to supply qualified referees for all games, home and away.

In my opinion the referee’s panel as a provider of league referees is not fit for purpose. If the panel was a business it would be closed down as it is unable to perform its function it is there for and would be unable to continue.

Yes it is important to have a body to administer the assessment, qualification and general progress of the refs. As well as providing refs for cup competitions, tournaments and international events. Having been a spectator for the whole season last year I got to see a good amount of panel and club refs as well as games with 2 & 3 refs. In general a league game with 3 refs unless they are all very experienced is a waste of time, the less experienced tend to be over ruled by the other 2 and might as well not be there. I accept there are some games where 3 qualified refs would be an advantage. The panel '' more qualified'' not necessarily better refs tend to over rule home refs even when they are wrong.

Is it more important in the lowest division to have 8 games on a Saturday with one referee, or to have 4 games with 2 referees each? Forcing clubs to provide these officials will lead to some clubs not entering a team at the lowest level and hence players young and old will be lost to the game!

We as players need referees, but referees need players for the long term survival of the game.

I would be very interested to see the breakdown of what clubs the panel refs originate from, I for one know that Boardman have 3/4 refs who originated from our club on the panel. There is now no incentive for clubs to encourage their refs to join the panel and better themselves. I am aware some clubs pay home refs to keep hold of them. The new rules will possibly make this even more prominent and could lead to the quick demise of league panel refs!

There has to be a happy medium, and personally that would involve a minimum of 2 refs for Prem 1, 2 and North 1, hopefully these would be one panel ref and one home ref. What you are basically saying is that depending on the availability you may have 3 refs at lots of games!
Prem 3 and North 2 & 3 should have a minimum of one referee, if league refs are available great if not one qualified home or away ref. This involves communication during the week between the clubs.

Its all well and good me spouting what I think without providing any ideas on what might be done to help the situation!

1- If the league wants refs provided home and away then all panel refs should be sent back to the club they originate from and it would be 1 home & 1 away ref per game for all teams in all divisions.

2- As per my thoughts above, Prem 1, 2 and North 1, a requirement for 2 refs, if a panel ref isn’t available then the Home & Away ref, Prem 3 & North 2 & 3 minimum of one referee either home or away.

3- Club playing refs, (would involve free weeks and non fulfilment would incur points deduction from the highest team in the club), the refs course is expensive, if it was held at a larger venue then the cost per person could reduced right down to ensure all clubs could get the required number of players qualified **. These are examples, 4 team club - 16 Qual refs, 3 team club 12, 2 team club 8 and a 1 team club 6!
If the fee was £10 per person the volume of several courses would ensure it was still financially viable and not loss making.

** Having completed the refs basic badge myself last year I was surprised at a few rules I never knew. The more players that complete the badge it should lead to less chatback/criticism of refs as player’s are aware of the rules.

E.g. ask all the players the rules on the ball going out from the face off, how many would say reface as opposed to rewarding possession to the relevant team if you know who the ball came off last.

Kind regards,

Oliver Forbes-Leith
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby young_trig Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:05 pm

falseteeth0 wrote:** Having completed the refs basic badge myself last year I was surprised at a few rules I never knew. The more players that complete the badge it should lead to less chatback/criticism of refs as player’s are aware of the rules.


Completely agree with you on this point. I notice that players who have actually taken the time to learn the rules get on with the game and accept the referees decision knowing that it is a correct one. The amount of people who moan to the ref about what has happened when they clearly don't know the rules properly gets me sick to the back teeth. I also feel that doing the refs course and understanding the rules better also made me a better player tactically. I would reckon that most people would agree with this point (not that it made me better, but more that its helps player development). Does this also mean we are going to see a more chilled Oliver on the pitch?

However, I don't agree with a few of your points from your letter. My own peronal view is that every game should have a minimum of 2 referees. I think its unfair to discriminate against any division with regards to this. All teams should be subjected to the same rules and same minimum amount of protection from the referees.

You say send all the panel refs back to the clubs, but I dount that the people who have actually taken the time to join the panel would want to do this. They joined the panel so that they could be come part of a different type of team and get the oppurtunity to ref different levels of game week in week out whilst having the oppurtunity to progress their own standards. I also think that those clubs with limited volunteers to referee depend massively on the panel.

I do however like the flexibility that your 2nd suggestion makes. Nothing too rigid, but with the right planning clubs can help ensure that the right number of refs are appointed to cover the game.

With regards to point 3, this is exactly why NEMLA put on the free courses last year so that clubs had a chance to get ready for the new rules coming in. They couldn't have done much more to help!

I think some teams are going to struggle to provide the referees required to comply with the rules but I suppose we are all just going to have to see how it goes.

Just my 2p's worth

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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby buckers_the_great Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:12 pm

I am based in the South but currently have no club so being on the panel will allow me to get games to ref this season. In addition i agree with young_trig in the fact i joined the panel to be able to travel around and referee different teams etc. This may well apply to referees in the North too.

It is tough to referee any game by yourself and especially in the lower leagues where there can be less understanding by some newer players of the rules so in my opinion you would always want a two person referee team (and someone to CBO).
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby Moaning Git Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:24 pm

In the same way as we want to develop our players to the best standard they can achieve, we need to do the same for our refs. Those who want to develop into international refs at competition standard need the planning and mentoring possible via the current panel structure. It may not be perfect, but what is?

In the past my biggest bugbear about the refing community has been that Club ref development and mentoring has been ignored or undervalued in favour of the panel. This meant that you could often find a home ref who qualified 20 years ago and had not studied a rulebook since, resulting in some very strange decisions indeed.

Luckily I think that is changing, and with cooperation and good will, and more organised and well resourced clubs helping out those less blessed, as well as new approaches such as the Junior officials programme i think things will get better.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby falseteeth0 Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:26 pm

Trigg I dont have a problem with people wishing to join the panel to further their ref career, i have an issue with the panel not being able to fulfill its tasks and clubs paying the price!

Ps yes have to keep calm due to ticker lol.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby young_trig Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:15 pm

falseteeth0 wrote:Trigg I dont have a problem with people wishing to join the panel to further their ref career, i have an issue with the panel not being able to fulfill its tasks and clubs paying the price!



I think your point comes down to what Moaning_git said on the previous post. A majority of clubs have for far too long neglected their internal refereed development. It should be taken just as seriously as player development and yet we have an over dependance on panel refs. Perhaps this new ruling will finally force clubs to do something about it.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby falseteeth0 Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:18 pm

As a club we have an average of 2 club refs available per week, and as stated we have several on the panel.

If every club currently had one ref per team on the panel this wouldn’t be an issue as there would be abundance!

Maybe the rules should be changed for every club to provide one panel ref per team entered in the league? And a home ref each week!

I haven’t looked at the breakdown of the panel but as a club who is entering its second season with 3 teams again we are fairly well represented on the panel! I wonder how many of the clubs with four teams have only one representative on the panel. We play an amateur sport which is supported by a lot of hard from volunteers who's only aim is to improve and help their club and our league grow and thrive for which I am very grateful.

Having been present at the AGM in 2011 when the ''questionable vote'' on providing an away ref took place this addition to the rule should have been put to an AGM vote as well.

I will qualify my ''questionable vote'', before the vote took place the attendees at the AGM and the clubs who were allowed to enter votes by post were not made aware that an Abstention would be disregarded. You cannot presume everyone has experience of these situations and should know this. It should be made clear on every postal vote form and to the people at the meeting before the Vote took place.

This does deflect from original post, the Refs panel cannot perform its duties on a weekly basis!

Going forward the refs committee needs to look at how it improves its numbers.

Trigg btw, I hope you grow as a club and increase your number of teams. When you do and you are trying to ensure you have 2 teams, 2 refs a CBO you may agree with my comments!
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby Moaning Git Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:02 pm

I am sorry but you are not being fair in the way you describe the responsibilities of the referee's panel. As far as I am concerned the primary responsibility to provide officials lies with the league. They can approach the panel to provide what resources they can and if that is not enough perhaps they should look to provide additional refs from clubs with available resources.

You seem to be making a number of assumptions, for example that all officials have transport available or are able to travel outside their immediate area. This is not the case.

You issue about "questionable vote" is also not quite right. The issue was how you you calculated the 2/3rds required to change a rule. The chair ruled it would be two thirds of the votes cast, and that abstentions were abstentions from casting a vote and so would not count as votes against. There is nothing questionable about that, in fact it is a common practice.

By the way what is the actual ruling about refs as I asked the NEMLA secretary for copies of AGM and meeting minutes and he has not replied. Do the Prem teams have to provide a travelling ref?
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby falseteeth0 Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:37 pm

Ok MG, I take on board your comments on the panel.

Your reply ref the AGM confirms what I said, it was presumed everyone knew the voting process, and they didn't. If everyone had it probably wouldn't have been passed!
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby Sour37 Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:15 pm

ALL teams have to provide travelling refs this season.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby Moaning Git Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:43 pm

Thanks Sour.

FT, the voting position was explained at the meeting, perhaps if more clubs attended more meetings they would become more involved in the decision making process and less confused when they actually have to make a decision.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby falseteeth0 Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:32 am

Morning MG, i spoke with my team mate who was at the AGM with me, he agreed with what i said that it was only after the vote and after you raised how an abstention be treated was it checked in the constitution and confirmed to the room.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby Moaning Git Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:18 pm

FT, and your point is??? What I said was that the voting position was explained at the meeting.... which it was. And that if more clubs attended more meetings that they would know what was going on. Personally I have very little sympathy with the view that you have to treat people like morons who are incapable of reading and understanding the league rules, policies and constitution.

It terms of the vote at the meeting, there was no groundswell from the meeting to retake the vote, just some muttering as I recall from Dave Withington. Anyway, in my opinion there should have been no abstentions from any club on such an important subject. Further, I believe it is a corruption of Democracy to prevent change simply because some people cannot be arsed to try and understand what is happening and cast their vote either for or against a proposal.

I am no fan of the NEMLA constitution , or the way in which NEMLA conducts its business, but I do believe that if rules are in place you should follow them, or work to change them, and if things do not go the way you want them to in a vote you should simply accept it and improve your arguments for next time.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby falseteeth0 Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:16 am

Well the season starts on Saturday, weather permitting.

24 games only 14 panel refs?

48 refs to be provided by clubs? Plus 24 CBOs.

14 games are going to have 3 refs? Nobody has come with a reason why we need 3 refs?

Having reffed a game with another ref on Saturday for the first time it does makes the job a lot easier. I can see no reason why other than the odd game in the Prem, Stockport/Cheadle etc might need 3. I can see a slight argument for 3 for all of Prem 1 as the game is a lot quicker, but that tends to only be with the top sides (Stockport/Cheadle/Mersey).

The extra ref in the majority of those games on Saturday will not make any difference at all and it is likely to hinder the growth and confidence of home refs.

One of my solutions was to have clubs free teams to ref games, with a points penalty to the their highest team if they didn’t. This season there are 3 free teams every Saturday, a normal Saturday will have 25 fixtures, of which 5 are prem games. If each free team provide 6 refs then there is 18 games covered with the home ref 2 per game.
This would cover the deficit of panel refs and mean of needed two experienced refs could do a Prem 1 game if needed.

Another solution is for clubs to provide 1 panel ref per team entered into the leagues? Plus providing a home ref!
I don’t know what clubs the majority of refs originate from but surely this is a fairer way? This would help and encourage the club refs onto the panel and for them to work through the various levels rather than the clubs trying to keep hold of them!

There are a number of new teams which is great, but putting more pressure on existing clubs who are fighting to get 3 or 4 teams out plus officials to officiate them isn’t fair either.

Here’s to a dry and frost/snow free season to all.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby young_trig Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:28 am

falseteeth0 wrote:One of my solutions was to have clubs free teams to ref games, with a points penalty to the their highest team if they didn’t. This season there are 3 free teams every Saturday, a normal Saturday will have 25 fixtures, of which 5 are prem games. If each free team provide 6 refs then there is 18 games covered with the home ref 2 per game.
This would cover the deficit of panel refs and mean of needed two experienced refs could do a Prem 1 game if needed.


I heard they tried something similar quite a few years ago. There was one team in each division each week who had no game and were meant to provide refs but they nearly always chose to take the penalty rather than actually turn up and ref.

This proposal probably comes too close to the start of the season to be implemented this seaon. the lagues would need to be set up with an odd number in each divsion to ensure that each team gets a chance to provide refs on a week off. To implement now would mean that many clubs get away scott free and only a couple of the divisions (who have 9 teams) would end up doing the reffing. Why don't you make the suggestion though at the upcoming Forum Meeting. If enough clubs are on board then it could be positively introduced for next season with the full backing of all clubs and an intention to comply.

However, I must stress that such a rule would impact very little on the manchester based clubs but put a lot of strain on those clubs away from macnhester. They would need to find 6 cars to send a ref to 6 different games, and over a very large distance. Thats quite a big ask!
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby falseteeth0 Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:51 am

I know it is to late for the season Trigg, i have tried to provide solutions not just have ago at people who do a lot of unpaid work.

I know the current league set up means that it is some of the teams from further afield. Going forward there is no reason why the league didnt start last Saturday, i know Mat Nugent on some minutes i have seen made this his intention! With an earlier start you have more scope to have free teams on a weekly basis.

The current league set up is another discussion. If teams with 2/3 teams knew their first teams were going to be deducted points they would make sure they turned out.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby young_trig Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:01 am

falseteeth0 wrote:I know it is to late for the season Trigg, i have tried to provide solutions not just have ago at people who do a lot of unpaid work.

I know the current league set up means that it is some of the teams from further afield. Going forward there is no reason why the league didnt start last Saturday, i know Mat Nugent on some minutes i have seen made this his intention! With an earlier start you have more scope to have free teams on a weekly basis.

The current league set up is another discussion. If teams with 2/3 teams knew their first teams were going to be deducted points they would make sure they turned out.


Completely agree with your last point. I think in the past it was a financial penalty rather than points penalty. However, there will still be some teams with nothing to lose and therefore you can't rely on them to provide the refereeing. Its no use to a team who was expecting them to turn out only to be let down on the day when they don't show up.
To some extent I feel that clubs need to take responsibility for reffing their own games and stop relying on other teams.

The whole situation is difficult but I feel its never been thouroughly discussed at the forum meetings. The last few years have been taken up with league structures and Dave Withington's problems. Its about time the matter was properly discussed and we could finally find a general consencus about how clubs feel they can solve the problems.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby buckers_the_great Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:45 pm

young_trig wrote:
falseteeth0 wrote:One of my solutions was to have clubs free teams to ref games, with a points penalty to the their highest team if they didn’t. This season there are 3 free teams every Saturday, a normal Saturday will have 25 fixtures, of which 5 are prem games. If each free team provide 6 refs then there is 18 games covered with the home ref 2 per game.
This would cover the deficit of panel refs and mean of needed two experienced refs could do a Prem 1 game if needed.


I heard they tried something similar quite a few years ago. There was one team in each division each week who had no game and were meant to provide refs but they nearly always chose to take the penalty rather than actually turn up and ref.

This proposal probably comes too close to the start of the season to be implemented this seaon. the lagues would need to be set up with an odd number in each divsion to ensure that each team gets a chance to provide refs on a week off. To implement now would mean that many clubs get away scott free and only a couple of the divisions (who have 9 teams) would end up doing the reffing. Why don't you make the suggestion though at the upcoming Forum Meeting. If enough clubs are on board then it could be positively introduced for next season with the full backing of all clubs and an intention to comply.

However, I must stress that such a rule would impact very little on the manchester based clubs but put a lot of strain on those clubs away from macnhester. They would need to find 6 cars to send a ref to 6 different games, and over a very large distance. Thats quite a big ask!


This use to happen down south by all accounts but it did involve a massive amount of travel, i can certainly see an issue with it when Newcastle were on their week off for example if they had to cover games from Nottingham to Liverpool.
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby falseteeth0 Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:07 pm

I would ask you the question do ref's travel to yourselves? Expecting the answer not all the time!
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Re: Referee Panel unfit for purpose?

Postby Chilli Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:01 pm

The apparently simple 'free team' idea was tried in the South and fell apart for the equally simple reason that getting 4/6/8/10 players who are qualified/capable/willing/can afford the time, money and transport to travel to ref games from each team is grasping at straws.
The distances involved in the South at the time were, for most games, less than they are now so the idea of someone with rudimentary reffing skills being willing to set off at 10 or 11am to ref a game and then get home at 6-7pm is clearly not attractive. Even with huge penalties for the top team, it wouldn't work, people would stop playing rather than do that and where does that take the game?
The idea has been tried in the north and the south, it doesn't work.

There is no simple answer to the reffing problem, tackling the root of the problem has been dodged for years.
If you want referees you have to make it an attractive and interesting alternative to playing that at least covers the ref's expenses and, ideally, pays a little for the service.
As these threads have covered repeatedly, the attitude towards referees has been atrocious for decades, is it any wonder that there are so few willing to take the time to be insulted and abused?
Unless there is a permanent zero-tolerance policy for dissent from top to bottom enforced by every player, Club and referee and backed up by the Associations, then this problem will never be solved.
The new countries in Europe have fewer problems recruiting refs and it's mostly because they don't have the same problems of referee abuse.

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