BILL Eaton continues to provide a light-hearted insight into life as a referee in his weekly column. This week he talks about the role of assessors


HOW often do we hear spectators say that the referee is performing for the “man in the stand”?

Well I am that man and I am commonly referred to as a referee assessor.

After my active refereeing career finished in 1994 I took up assessing and was appointed by the Football Association as one of their Contributory League Assessors in 2001.

I operate in the Conference North, Northern Premier League and the North West Counties. My role as an assessor is to help develop referees and assistant referees as well as building on their strengths.

So what am I looking for in a referee’s performance? There are 10 competencies that we address which are, application of law, decision-making/accuracy, match control, stoppages and technical offences, advantage, teamwork, alertness/awareness, communication, positioning and fitness/workrate.

The more important ones are the first three but it is quite clear that all these areas in a refereeing performance help each other.

For instance, if a referee is fit and gets into the correct positions to judge infringements he/she will have a better chance of making a correct decision.

Correct application of law and correct decisions will obviously help to maintain control of the game.

Some areas such as advantage become more important as you go into the higher leagues and players are more skilful.

There is a tendency at grassroots level for players to prefer to have a free kick, but when playing advantage at any level the referee must make sure that it does not impact on his or her overall control.

In concluding this brief insight into referee assessing I stress that we are not there to try to catch the referee out.

All referees will make mistakes, as do players, but believe it or not referees are only human. What we try to do as assessors is establish why the mistake has been made (bad positioning, lack of fitness, poor communication with assistant referees etc) and give advice on how this may be alleviated in future.

Assessing referees and assistants is important in their development and each game is different so they have to deal with what is happening on the field and not worry about “the man in the stand”.